Burjeel Medical City
A view of Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi. A complex ten-hour surgery by the doctors helped excise a cancerous tumour from the patient's stomach. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The stomach of an Emirati woman in Abu Dhabi was removed entirely during a ten-hour procedure in order to treat her aggressive stomach cancer. Surgeons at Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Medical City then created an alternative pathway from the intestine to mimic the functions of the stomach as an alternative for digestion and excretion. The patient, who is in her 30s, went on to adopt a special diet after the surgery.

Aggressive tumour

“The patient had first reported abdominal pain and initial investigations revealed that she was in her second month of pregnancy. We also took a biopsy from the stomach through the endoscope to verify the cause of the pain. The biopsy showed the presence of an aggressive tumour that had penetrated the stomach wall and spread to the surface of the liver, and even around the bladder. The situation therefore called for the development of a personalised treatment strategy,” Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, medical oncologist consultant and head of oncology at the hospital, told Gulf News.

“Because of the risks involved, we opted to terminate the pregnancy and initiated treatment to prevent further spread of the disease,” Dr Al Shamsi explained. Three types of immunotherapies, a series of six chemotherapy sessions and targeted therapies were then prescribed to first stop the spread of the Stage 4 tumour.

Complex surgery

Dr Al Shamsi said stomach cancer is typically very aggressive and spreads rapidly to other internal organs. It was therefore decided to surgically remove the tumour to prevent further spread of the cancerous tissues.

“During the ten-hour surgery, the entire stomach and cancerous tissues inside the abdominal wall, as well as the affected tissues in the liver and bladder, were removed. Chemotherapy was also administered during the complex procedure and an alternative pathway was created in the intestine to mimic the functions of the stomach to aid her in digesting food and excreting waste,” explained Dr Sadir Al Rawi, general surgery consultant and head of oncology services at VPS Healthcare, the hospital’s parent company.

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The availability of such surgeries and advanced treatment protocol in the UAE, coupled with a high success rate, reduces the need for patients to travel abroad.

The patient has thanked the medical staff and said that she was able to finally live a pain-free life after two years of suffering. “She is also following a specific diet to assist the healing process,” Dr Al Rawi added.