Doctors have cut out this 11-lb ‘basketball-sized’ breast tumour measuring some 20 inches across and rebuilt the male patient’s chest using 3D-printed titanium ribs.
Wang Tianyuan, 25, was treated for his malignant chondrosarcoma – a rare type of cancer occurring in bones or nearby soft tissue – at the specialist Tangdu Hospital in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province in north-western China.
The native of China’s eastern Jiangsu Province turned to experts for help in late November after what started as a small lump on the right side of his chest rapidly grew into a ‘basketball-sized’ mass measuring 18 by 14 inches.
Doctor Huang Lijun, the facility’s deputy head of cardiothoracic surgery, told local media: “Two years ago, the patient discovered a growth of about 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) on the right side of his chest.
“When we admitted him, the growth was nearly 50 centimetres (20 inches) in diameter.”
Mr Wang, whose scans show the giant cancerous mass occupying the entire right side of his chest, said: “I couldn’t walk for long periods or sit for long periods.
“I’d cough in my sleep, so I couldn’t sleep for long periods either.
“It wasn’t so big at first. It grew very quickly in the past half a year.”
Doctor Huang and a team of cross-departmental experts performed surgery on Mr Wang on 10th December.
The surgeon said: “During surgery, we discovered that the tumour had invaded three of his ribs.
“In order to ensure we cut it all out, we removed five ribs.
“But removing five ribs meant that the chest structure had become compromised, which would lead to breathing difficulties.”
Specialists decided they would reconstruct part of Mr Wang’s chest, but they opted against using a solid titanium frame so as not to cause long-term discomfort to the patient when breathing.
In the end, they 3D-printed four lightweight titanium ribs, which when combined weighed just 86.1 grammes.
Doctor Huang explained: “We used flexible spiral structures, like springs.
“They bend and can reduce potential breathing difficulties after surgery.”
The whole operation lasted six hours, with medics cutting out the entirety of Mr Wang’s 5-kilogramme (11-lb) tumour.
Mr Wang said: “It doesn’t hurt any more and I don’t cough.
“I feel better in every way.”
Mr Wang was recovering well and would be discharged in the following days, a hospital reported said on 19th December.
He is expected to return for regular follow-ups.
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