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Home News and Update Year 2010 City Doctors Give Hope to Cardiac Cancer Patients

City Doctors Give Hope to Cardiac Cancer Patients

Times of India
06 December 2010
By Prithvijit Mitra
Kolkata, India

It’s a rare occurrence in medical history and has a complicated treatment method that has rarely been tried in the country. Cardiac cancer, which is usually triggered by tumours on the chest wall or in the heart, has been successfully treated in a Kolkata hospital.

City Doctors Give Hope to Cardiac Cancer Patients
Two patients were operated upon last month to surgically remove the affected tissues in the heart, which has saved their lives. Even though doctors don’t rule out the possibility of a relapse (metastasis) which could be fatal, the feat is being looked upon as a major breakthrough in the treatment of this rare form of cancer.

Experts at the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) were foxed when a 49–year–old woman sought treatment for her cardiac disorder. She had cancer in her kidney, which had spread to her heart, forming a block of cancerous tissues. The right chamber of her heart had been infected which called for an extensive and complex surgical procedure.

"First, her kidney had to be removed along with the entire block of tumour tissues from the kidney to the heart. This is a complex procedure involving cardio–pulmonary bypass and circulatory arrest. Blood circulation has to be stopped for about 30 minutes while the brain and rest of the body are protected by cooling them to less than 15 degrees centigrade. We managed to carry out the surgery satisfactorily and the woman recovered within a week," said Kunal Sarkar, vicepresident of RTIICS who performed the surgery.

He described the disease as a "rare clinical entity" which is rarely encountered by doctors. "The very rare ones we came across till November were in the last stages and surgery would have been futile. But these two cases were retrievable even though both had suffered extensive damage," Sarkar added. The second patient, a 69–yearold–man, had a tumour on the chest wall.

Cancerous tissues from the growth had travelled to the right upper chamber of the heart. The patient also had a blocked cardiac artery, which necessitated a bypass surgery. "It couldn’t have been more complex than this. His heart chamber had been so badly affected that we had to remove the affected parts and reconstruct it with body tissues. Then, we conducted a bypass. Both went off very well and the patient has recovered fairly quickly.

While the first patient has been given a five–year survival chance of more than 80%, the second patient stands a 50% chance.

Secondary cancer affecting the heart remains one of the rarest medical conditions. Diagnosis is usually late and outcome is poor. Other than benign tumours like myxoma, malignant cardiac tumours are extremely rare.

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