A six-month pregnant pancreatic cancer patient from Afghanistan got a new lease of life after a complex but successful Whipple surgery at the Fortis Hospital here, doctors at the facility said on Thursday.
This was one of the few Whipple surgeries conducted on pregnant women across the world, and probably “the first in India”, they said.
Dr Amit Javed, director of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said the woman was five and a half months pregnant when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The diagnosis was challenging as abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting are common in pregnancy.
The common method used to diagnose pancreatic cancer is a CT scan of the abdomen which is avoided in pregnancy as it is harmful to the foetus.
“Advanced pregnancy made the surgery challenging. In addition, she could not undergo chemotherapy on account of her pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement.
Cancers developing in the body or the tail of the pancreas are removed by a distal pancreatectomy. Those localised at the head of the pancreas or arising from the lower bile duct, ampulla and second part of duodenum, are removed by a pancreaticoduodenectomy (also called a Whipple procedure).
The surgery in this situation was difficult and posed a potential risk for both the mother and the baby. Additionally, the uterus was quite large and obscured access to the pancreas, the hospital’s spokesperson said.
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