Archive for July 2013

Cancers in the Abdomen- A good surgery makes all the difference


Nobody wants to listen to bad news. That is why, we do not want to accept any deadly diagnosis such as cancer (a term which should be replaced by ”tumor” so as not to scare people). We also want to believe anybody who gives us a hope of treatment by easy methods even if they are unscientific and irrational.

These are very common occurences  in practice. The main reason behind this is fear. The fear of disease and death makes us irrational. The term “cancer” plays havoc in our minds. It spells doom. Nobody is ready to accept that it can happen to anyone. It is an unfortunate incident in anyone’s life. But isn’t the tsunami unfortunate too? Don’t we accept it? Turning away from the problem (any problem in life for that matter) does not make the problem disappear. It allows it to grow.

Let us take acquire some knowledge about these abdominal cancers. They can arise from the stomach, liver, bile duct, gall bladder, pancreas and colon. Amongst these cancers, the colon cancers are the slowest to grow and offer the best opportunity for cure.

Whatever be the origin of the cancer, all abdominal tumors are best treated by surgery. If the CT scan shows the tumor has not spread to other areas, the correct treatment is to remove the tumor appropriately with surgery. If the tumor cannot be taken out by surgery, the outcome is poor. The surgery when done appropriately by trained surgeons gives us the best chance for cure and long survival. Recent development permits us to use laparoscopy in some cancers such as the colon thereby imparting more comfort to the patient without compromising on the tumor clearance.  The advent of modern technology has considerably reduced the complication rates. For instance, after excising the diseased segment of foodpipe, the joining of two ends can be done with staplers that reduce the incidence of wound infection. In case of the liver cancer surgery, the use of Modern gadgets can reduce blood loss considerably. This translates into less blood transfusion, less complications and prolonged survival. In cancers of the pancreas, the complication rate that was once high, has been reduced by improvised techniques of pancreatic anastomosis. Gallbladder cancers when detected by accidental pathological diagnosis after a cholecystectomy, have a good outcome when operated early and correctly.

The research in cancer in the last decade has resulted in better cancer medicines (chemotherapy) and radiotherapy techniques. We can now use them in some situations before surgery to make a large tumor smaller and amenable to surgical removal. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can also be used after surgery in some cases to improve survival.

However, if we were to talk about one single step that makes a difference in the treatment of abdominal cancers, it is the appropriately performed surgery. So getting an effective and early surgery is crucial.

A good counseling by your doctor is of immense importance. Ask your doctor regarding the disease, its prognosis, and treatment options. Learn more about the tumor to have a realistic expectation. Knowledge and awareness of tumor treatment should bring a change in the way society looks at cancers, or should we say ” tumors”. Accepting and facing it scientifically and staying away from the unscientific remedies are the first steps in the right direction. A good surgery is the best possible method to cure wherever possible.


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