LIMA –– Peruvian doctors have removed what was described by health officials as a “giant” 35.3-pound tumour from the abdomen of a woman in Lima, the capital of Peru.
The patient, identified by the Peru’s Ministry of Health as Irianita Rojas, 22, had lived with the ovarian tumour since she was 13 years old. The tumour grew so large that she looked as if she were pregnant.
“I never thought I would be operated on,” Rojas said, according to a statement published by the Ministry of Health. “I’m happy now because I’m recovering and I will be able to fulfil my dream of studying accounting.”
It took surgeons at the Archbishop Loayza National Hospital three hours to remove the tumour Saturday in what the hospital described as a “medical feat”. Dr Luis Garcia Bernal, the hospital director, said the patient would stay there for observation.
“Irianita is recovering and can be released, but she will stay in Lima for a few more days so that we can practise additional exams to define the treatment she should follow when she returns to [the province of] Loreto,” Garcia Bernal said yesterday.
Rojas lives in Tamshiyacu, a remote town in the Peruvian jungle in the northernmost province of Loreto in the Amazon region bordering Brazil.
She says she had already resigned herself to living with the tumour until a fateful, coincidental meeting with Anibal Velasquez Valdivia, Peru’s Minister of Health. Velasquez was travelling in the region this month to monitor the progress of the construction of a health centre in Tamshiyacu when Rojas’ case came to his attention.
Officials say Velasquez immediately gave orders to have Rojas transported to Lima to be treated at Archbishop Loayza National Hospital, which belongs to the Peru’s Ministry of Health. Rojas and her mother Karina Rasma were flown to the capital on February 16. Medical examinations leading to the surgery began right away.
Dr Walter Curran, executive director at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, called the size of Rojas’ tumour extraordinarily rare. There are many different types of ovarian tumours, he said, and a number of tumours can grow that large.
He said that young women tend to have more health screenings than men, largely because of the need for gynaecologic and obstetric care, and this tumour speaks to the need for regular medical care.
Garcia Bernal says Rojas has a good outlook. Even though they were dealing with a malignant tumour, he said, it was considered low intensity, meaning no chemotherapy would be needed. Ninety per cent of patients with this prognosis recover fully, the doctor said.
Health officials said Rojas’ growing tumour caused her constant pain that prevented a normal life. She had dropped out of school and had difficulty walking and even breathing.
Speaking after the successful surgery, the patient’s mother became emotional, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health.
“Thanks for giving my daughter a new life,” Rasma told doctors.