Without moving the foetus, the four hour-long surgery successfully removed the tumour
Chennai: A six-month pregnant pancreatic cancer patient from Afghanistan was operated at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj. Having been denied treatment in her native country, the patient was successfully treated by Dr. Amit Javed, Director, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj along with his team. Both mother and the baby in her womb are fine. There are only a handful of reported Whipple’s surgeries done on pregnant women patients across the world and this is probably the first in India.
The patient (Fahima) was five and a half months pregnant when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The first major challenge was in making the diagnosis itself. This is because in pregnancy, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting are common and even jaundice may occur. The commonly used method to diagnose pancreatic cancer is CT scan of the abdomen which is avoided in pregnancy as it is harmful to the foetus. Once the diagnosis was made, early surgical management is of utmost importance. Waiting for the delivery could risk spread of the cancer. Advanced pregnancy made the surgery challenging. In addition, she could not undergo chemotherapy on account of her pregnancy. Cancers arising in the body or tail of the pancreas are removed by a distal pancreatectomy whereas those localized to the head of pancreas or those which arise from the lower bile duct, ampulla and second part of duodenum are removed by Whipple’s pancreaticoduodenectomy.