Amputation not always needed for bone cancer: NEIGRIHMS doctors

Shillong, Nov. 24: Cancers affecting the bone is quite rare(<1% of all cancers) and need specialized training and resources for proper diagnosis and treatment. Traditionally amputation of the limb was the only option for achieving complete removal of the tumor, but
many patients find this unacceptable. Medical advancements have offered respite to patients with bone cancer, ensuring that the limbs are not amputated. Such specialized procedures are called “Limb Salvage Surgeries” and are performed in selected centres in India. This needs specialized surgical training and also experts to administer chemotherapy. In Northeast India, very few centres offer such facilities and we are glad that NEIGRIHMS, Shillong is equipped for this.

A 27-year old gentleman employed with Meghalaya Police presented to NEIGRIHMS in August 2016 with pain around the knee. His X-Ray study showed a tumor in the bone and hence he was referred to the Surgical Oncology(Cancer Surgery)
Department. A MRI study and CT scan were performed and a needle biopsy(microscopic study of the tissue) confirmed a bone cancer. A multidisciplinary team of doctors from various concerned specialities discussed the case and decided that the patient should be given chemotherapy first, after which limb salvage surgery may be done. After chemotherapy the patient underwent surgery, in which the knee joint was removed and a specially created metal joint was inserted. After surgery, patient could start walking within a couple of days, thanks to the physiotherapy department which took care of the exercises and rehabilitation. The patient received chemotherapy for almost a year and has now completed treatment. He is now able to move around without any support.

Dr. Caleb Harris, the surgical oncologist who performed the surgery said that it is very important to have a multidisciplinary team(MDT). At NEIGRIHMS, all cancer patients are treated following discussion by a MDT, which improves the quality of
treatment provided. Dr. Bhaskar Borgohain, the orthopaedic surgeon who was part of the operating team said that the metal joint used to replace the cancerous knee joint is different from that used in regular knee joint replacements. Dr. L. Purnima Devi, Assistant Professor, Radiotherapy, who was part of the team which administered the chemotherapy, said that for such bone tumors chemotherapy is given for prolonged periods and it helps if the treatment is provided at a hospital closer to home. Else, patients will not be able to complete treatment. Dr. Umesh Das, the medical oncologist said that chemotherapy has increased the duration of survival of patients suffering from bone cancers, because of which even (some) patients with stage 4 cancer can be considered for surgery.

Dr. K. Pandita, the Public Relations Officer, said that NEIGRIHMS is empanelled with Megha Health Insurance Scheme(MHIS) which has enabled several patients to undergo cancer treatment. He said that this is a boon for cancer patients in this region who need not travel far to receive quality treatment. With a state of the art 252 bed Regional Cancer Centre coming up, the construction being underway, NEIGRIHMS will offer respite to several cancer patients.

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