Tue, May 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Academic grateful after tumor surgery

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei yesterday urged people experiencing abnormal abdominal pain, distention and a decreased appetite to get tested for hepatic hemangioma, the most common type of benign liver tumor, after a Filipino pathologist was forced to live with a tumor the size of a basketball for more than a year.

Hospital Department of Surgery attending physician Hsieh Chung-Bao (謝宗保) said John Dennis Macapagal, 47, started exhibiting abdominal distention about five years ago and noticed a hard mass in his belly.

“By the time professor Macapagal was diagnosed with hepatic hemangioma, the tumor had reached 20cm in diameter. It was deemed inoperable at the time and his doctor suggested a liver transplant,” Hsieh told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

However, Hsieh said Macapagal rejected the idea of a transplant because of the associated lifetime dependence on antirejection drugs and decided to explore other options, while resorting to conventional medicines to ease his condition and the excruciating pain caused by the rapidly growing tumor over the past years.

Macapagal approached the hospital after learning that physicians there had successfully removed a 30cm hemangioma, Hsieh added.

“When Macapagal was admitted into the hospital on May 13, his tumor had reached 30cm and weighed about 5kg, making him resemble a pregnant woman. The mass also pressed on his stomach, impeding digestion,” Hsieh said.

Hsieh added that Macapagal was unable to stand straight without breathing difficulties because of the size of the tumor.

To remove the tumor, Hsieh had to cut out the left lobe of Macapagal’s liver and part of its right lobe, he said. Just 800g of the liver remains after the surgery on May 15, he added.

“The patient is recovering well and was discharged today [yesterday]. He requires only a follow-up check in three months before he can return to his life in the Philippines,” Hsieh said, adding that Macapagal’s liver was expected to grow back to 80 percent of its original size in about a year.

Hsieh said hepatic hemangioma results from the abnormal collection of blood vessels that occur for unknown reasons, with the incidence rate ranging from 1 to 2 percent of a population.

“Delaying treatment of such a tumor could negatively affect the cells surrounding blood vessels and increase the risk of bleeding, bruises and stroke,” he said. “As the condition is normally asymptomatic in the early stages, people experiencing abdominal pain and distention for no known reasons should seek immediate medical attention.”

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