UAE: Doctors save woman's breast in complex 8-hour cancer surgery

Her illness was diagnosed during a routine visit to the hospital

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 3 Sep 2022, 4:41 PM

When 37-year-old Goldie Michal was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, she felt her who life come crumbling down.

However, some timely diagnosis and treatment, and some precise breast reconstruction surgery at Saudi German Hospital has not only put her life back on track, but also restored her shattered confidence.

Michal's trial began when she paid a routine visit to the hospital for a general check-up. To her eternal shock, she was told that she had multifocal cancer in her right breast.

“I had been undergoing ultrasound for a few years as I was aware of cysts in my breast, but it was not much of a bother,” said Michal.

“However, In April when MRI and PET CT were conducted, the doctors informed me that I had cancer. I was scared and shattered with the news as the lump was growing,” recounts Michal.

When the initial treatment began in August, the multidisciplinary team of doctors at Saudi German Hospital devised a treatment plan to try and save her breast. “But since there were multiple tumours, they said it would be a complex and difficult job,” said Michal.

However, the expert team of doctors did manage to put her on the path to recovery and also saved her breast.

Michal is happy since there was no change in her aesthetics following some precise and detailed work by professor Robert Hierner, the plastic surgeon at Saudi German Hospital.

The 8-hour surgery was successful due to great teamwork, the plastic surgeon told Khaleej Times. "After the cancerous tissues and tumours were resected by Dr Ritu Khare, oncologist, Saudi German Hospital, it was my task to get the breast reconstruction done. “Michal’s case was a complex one as the entire right breast had to be removed. And reconstruction of an entire breast comes with many challenges,” said Prof Hierner.

The surgeon said that patients diagnosed with breast cancer have two options for reconstruction - a silicon implant or autologous tissue, where the patient’s tissues are extracted from the abdomen, inner thigh, or back for the reconstruction of the breast. “But for Michal, the tissues from the anterior trunk were removed to reconstruct the breast shape,” said Prof Hierner.

As it was a complex case, the surgeon faced many challenges. “Using autologous tissues to reconstruct is a challenge, as we have to perfectly shape the breast to the other and the nipple should have exact symmetry to the opposite breast. Thankfully, we did not detect any lump in the left breast,” said Prof Hierner.

Michal is doing fine now, but doctors said she will have to undergo chemotherapy for six months and radiotherapy for six weeks. “It is a gradual process for undergoing a cancer treatment,” said Michal.

Only 3 per cent of all breast reconstructions are performed with autologous tissue. In contrast to reconstruction with a silicone implant, no further revision procedures are needed in future. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be carried out with a significantly lower complication rate, explained prof Hierner.

He said women should not panic if diagnosed with breast cancer, while pointing out that a fast-track diagnosis is essential. “If a lump is growing or one feels secretion from the nipples, you should consult a doctor,” said Prof Hierner.


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