23 February 2024
Something interesting I learnt in the operating room…The mysteries of cancer surgery.
26 April 2023
As a medical student, I always felt drawn to the diagnostic aspect of medicine. So when I was assigned to the emergency room for my surgery rotation, I was excited to learn more about diagnosing and treating emergency conditions. It wasn’t until I encountered a particularly challenging patient in the undiagnosed emergency cancer operating room that I knew I wanted to pursue a career in cancer surgery.
The patient, a middle-aged man, had been experiencing unexplained abdominal pain for several months. Despite numerous tests and examinations, his doctors were unable to determine the cause of his symptoms. He was eventually rushed to the emergency room in excruciating pain, and the surgical team was called to perform an emergency exploratory laparotomy. As a medical student, I was given the opportunity to assist the surgical team during the procedure.
We quickly discovered that the cause of the patient’s pain was an undiagnosed cancer in his abdomen. The cancer had spread extensively. The surgical team worked meticulously to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible, while also preserving the patient’s organs and minimizing the risk of complications. The surgery lasted for several hours, but ultimately, we were able to remove the majority of the cancerous tissue. In the days that followed, the patient’s condition improved significantly. His pain subsided, and he was able to leave the hospital in good spirits.
But what struck me the most about this case was the diagnostic challenge it posed. As a medical student, I had always been fascinated by the complexity of medicine, and this case highlighted just how much we still have to learn about diagnosing and treating cancer. It made me realize the importance of diagnostic skills in the field of surgery, and the impact that a correct diagnosis can have on a patient’s outcome. This experience solidified my desire to pursue a career in cancer surgery. I wanted to be a part of a team that could not only diagnose and treat cancer but also provide hope to patients who had been previously undiagnosed or had a poor prognosis. The challenge of diagnosing and treating complex conditions like this one was what made me fall in love with surgery and what continues to motivate me to this day.
Part of the charitable activity of the Foundation, BJS Academy is an online educational resource for current and future surgeons.
The Academy is comprised of five distinct sections: Continuing surgical education, Young BJS, Cutting edge, Scientific surgery and Surgical news. Although the majority of this is open access, additional content is available to BJS subscribers and strategic partners.