Some Damn Great News…Do we need it or what? Miami doctor breaks new ground in cancer surgery.

MIAMI (Reuters) – Dr. Tomoaki Kato had to remove a lot more than a cancerous tumor during an unprecedented operation on a 63-year-old Florida woman earlier this month.

To get to the tumor, which was buried deep in Brooke Zepp’s abdomen and threatened to kill her within months, the organ transplant specialist said he first had to remove her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and small and large intestines.

The organs were chilled and preserved outside Zepp’s body during a painstaking 15-hour operation at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

They were re-implanted in their normal position after the tumor — which was about 2 inches in diameter and wrapped around Zepp’s aorta and the base of two other arteries — was removed.

Kato said that never before have six organs been removed from a patient’s abdomen to allow doctors to go after a malignant growth previously considered inoperable because of its location.

“There’s nothing really simple here,” Kato, who trained as a surgeon at Osaka University in Japan, told Reuters on Monday. “I don’t want to say acrobatic but it’s kind of, in a way. It’s a very tricky operation.

“We’ve done pieces of this surgery many times but not the whole thing like this,” said the 11-year veteran of the University of Miami Transplant Institute who led a team of doctors that operated on Zepp.

Zepp was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. But Kato said the type of surgery he performed on March 4 ultimately could benefit people with more common diseases.

“There might be a lot of applications,” he said.

During the operation, Zepp, who was expected to be discharged from her Miami hospital this week, had many blood vessels replaced with artificial ones made of Gore-Tex.

“She came to me out of desperation,’ Kato said. “I’m really glad it worked out well.”

Doctor Kato. Bravo. You are a person that DOES THINGS, not talks things.


10 Responses to “Some Damn Great News…Do we need it or what? Miami doctor breaks new ground in cancer surgery.”

  1. Angus Dei Says:

    “There’s nothing really simple here,”

    OK, that is, “Rocket Surgery.” © 2008 Spot-the-dog

  2. spacecadette Says:

    We need this or we’ll keep losing “angels”.
    Lost two to cancer.One born with it.One had it coming.

  3. spot_the_dog Says:

    Fuck cancer. It so totally sucks, I cheer any giant leaps forward like this.

    Another kind of neat cancer-fighting tool is Proton Therapy. It does to tumors what radiation currently does, but better.

    [quote]Traditional radiation therapy affects everything in its path, so doctors have to limit the dose delivered to the tumor in order to minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue. With proton therapy, however, the beam is accelerated to specific energies that determine how deeply in the body protons will deposit their maximum energy. Protons enter the body with a low dose of radiation, which increases when the beam slows down within the designated target tumor and then protons stop. The combined effect is greater precision in targeting the tumor with a more potent dose of radiation.[/quote]

    Pioneered at Loma Linda in the US, still not available in Australia.

  4. spot_the_dog Says:

    #2 I’m really sorry to hear that. It’s bad enough when adults end up with it, but it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see children with it. And teens – they’re caught in the middle between “adult treatments” and “childrens’ treatments” and nowhere near enough research is being done on how best to treat the adolescent age group.

    Also we seem to be getting better at nailing actual tumors, but treating cancers that infiltrate people all over such as blood and bone marrow cancers still seems incredibly hit-or-miss. Poison and/or nuke the whole body and hope you get most of the greebies, and if poison #1 or #2 or #3 doesn’t work, try #4 or #5 or some combination of all of them. Bring on individually genetically-targeted chemical warfare for those suckers, I say.

  5. spacecadette Says:

    He’s lucky he lived 29 years.
    Cancer beat medical science and technology.

  6. spot_the_dog Says:

    #5 Cancer beats all the best efforts sometimes. [soapbox] petty whinge: hearing a cancer survivor, someone who managed to luck out and beat it, full-on beatified as exemplars of “strong” and “heroic” and “good” and “brave.” How do people think that makes people who are trying equally hard but not managing to beat it, feel? Like if someone can’t seem to be able to “win the battle,”, they’re a loser? They didn’t “try” hard enough? It’s not all character, I think a great deal of it is plain old luck.[/off soapbox]

  7. spacecadette Says:

    I don’t know.

    Sometimes, I think it was because they gave up, so they died. It was probably too painful or too difficult. The emotional turmoil they, their family and their friends have to go thru must have been to much.

    I don’t know.

  8. Ash Says:

    Spot, you’re quite right, often cancer just comes down to luck. Such as what kind of cancer it is, when it is detected, whether the treatments work for it, and a whole host of different variables. All said and done, a huge portion of surviving cancer comes down to luck.

  9. Angus Dei Says:

    As I understand it – not all that well – some nanotech technologies offer promise of targeted delivery of drugs to cancerous tumors. As a result, the doses that get to the tumors could be much higher than with traditional chemotherapy – the drugs would be past the general toxicity threshold – and still with less side effects. Also, compounds that are far too toxic to be used in chemo now could be employed. That seems like some promising stuff right there.

    If you had told me when I was in high school that cancer would still not be cured by the time I turned 50, I would have laughed at you. How hard can it be?… well, pretty hard I guess. Hell, there still isn’t an easy and permanent cure for baldness.

  10. bingbingloveshisblingbling Says:

    It’s hard, but any progress is a good thing.

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