UAE: Woman confuses an 8-kg cyst with belly fat

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - Freak medical case emphasises the importance of regular health checks.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 5:55 PM

Nicola Violeta Profir, 53, was blissfully unaware of the reasons for her sudden weight gain around her abdomen.

Initially, she ignored her bulge in her belly as fat. Later, she went for a medical check-up, when the growth started pressing over her bladder and caused immense discomfort.

The medical examination revealed that she had mistaken her belly fat. She was carrying an 8.3 kilogram of ovarian cyst that had rapidly expanded in her abdomen.

Profir, a Romanian national and a physical education teacher in a school in Abu Dhabi, spoke to Khaleej Times about how she stumbled upon the base-ball-sized ovarian cyst.

“I noticed a sudden and unusual weight gain, despite my keeping a check on my diet and following a strict physical exercise regimen. It was impossible to ignore it any longer as my belly was bulging. Besides, the bulge didn't disappear when I lay on my back. It was pressing down uncomfortably on my bladder and other internal organs including lungs,” she said.

In the outpatient department (OPD), she was assured by her doctor that the lump could be one of any of a number of "non-serious" growths. Soon, she underwent an ultrasound scan, which revealed the massive ovarian cyst.

“My initial reaction to the diagnosis was an uncontrollable rage. I had spent most of my life eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly and strongly believed in a preventive, holistic approach to disease. How could my body betray all these years of care and attention by producing an enormous growth in my reproductive organ?” asked an exasperated Profir.

Dr Gilbert Ayoub, consultant and head of general and laparoscopic surgery at NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, said: “This was a huge rare mucinous tumour suspected by the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and confirmed by the final histopathology report that it was, indeed, an ovarian cyst. We removed the tumour as per the request of our obstetrics and gynaecology colleagues. Ovarian cysts are, in fact, extremely common but as they have few symptoms. Women often discover them only when examined for other gynaecological conditions. Cysts smaller than about four centimetres (cm) in diameter are simply monitored, since they may dissolve and be reabsorbed by the body without being treated.”

Profir’s case, however, was rare. Her ovarian cyst had occupied her abdomen, weighing 8.3 kg and measuring 31x21x13 cm. Its rapid growth led to an unusual bulge in her abdomen.

“All ovarian tumours grow rapidly within a year because of the rich blood supply,” said Dr Ayoub.

Profir vividly remembered the day she visited the clinic’s OPD.

“I was suffering from severe pain coupled with shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and abnormal blood pressure and pulse readings. My surgeon took the call that I should undergo an emergency surgical procedure,” she added.

Fortunately, Profir’s ovarian cyst was not malignant as her Ca125 test report revealed.

“The surgery went off well and there were no postoperative complications. She was discharged on the fourth day of the surgery. She is back to her passion for cycling and staying fit. Her case emphasises the importance of regular health checks besides maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Dr Ayoub added.

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