Entries in Tumor (8)


WWE Star's Growth-Inducing Tumor Removed

NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- World Wrestling Entertainment star Dalip Singh, better known by his ring name The Great Khali, underwent surgery Wednesday to remove a tumor that caused his huge size.

At 7-foot-1 and weighing 347 pounds, Singh, a former police officer in India's Punjab province, made his WWE debut in 2006, and won the World Heavyweight Championship belt just a year later. But while his dimensions have earned him celebrity status, they are the result of a tumor that likely triggered long-term complications for his health.

The benign tumor developed on Singh's pituitary gland, a tiny gland at the base of the brain that produces growth hormone. The tumor caused excessive secretion of the hormone, leading to a condition known as acromegaly, which causes gigantism if the tumor is active before puberty and can be fatal if left untreated, said Dr. Joshua Cohen, an endocrinologist at George Washington University.

Despite the surgery last week, Singh, 39, is at greater risk of facing health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even poor vision if the tumor came into contact with the nearby optic nerves, Cohen said. In 1993, star wrestler Andre the Giant, who stood at 7 feet and 5 inches, and weighed 500 pounds, died at age 46 of congestive heart failure caused by acromegaly.

Susan Manko, a spokeswoman for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where Singh was operated on, said Singh was "recovering well in the hospital" and is expected to be released by Monday. Singh has declined to speak to reporters until then, Manko said.

The signs of Singh's acromegaly are instantly obvious, said Dr. Glenn Braunstein, an endocrionologist and chair of the medicine department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles — raising the questions, he added, of whether and for how long WWE knew about it, and whether treatment was put off because Singh's surging growth hormone levels were helping him become one of the most formidable wrestlers in the nation.

"The prominent eyebrows, the bulbous nose, the chin protruding, the massive ears — this is quite typical of patients with acromegaly," said Braunstein, who said he could make a clear diagnosis based on the few seconds it took him to conduct a Google image search.

WWE identified Singh's acromegaly at some time prior to his surgery through its Wellness Program, a WWE official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press about Singh.

In a statement, WWE spokesman Adam Hopkins said that "[a]s part of WWE's ongoing wellness evaluation, we are happy that The Great Khali (Dalip Singh) had successful pituitary surgery, and we look forward to him returning to the ring in the near future."

Cohen said Singh could be healthy enough to return to the ring within months, but if he does, it might be at the risk of internal bleeding at the surgical site caused by physical contact.

Dr. Joseph Maroon, who serves as WWE's medical director and led the UPMC surgical team that operated on Singh Wednesday, deferred comment to Hopkins. Dr. David Black, the Wellness Program's administrator, and Dr. Vijay Bahl, a UPMC endocrionologist who serves on the program's group of physicians, could not be reached for comment.

WWE's knowledge of Singh and other wrestlers' acromegaly could put it in a precarious legal position, said Gabriel Feldman, who directs the sports law program at Tulane Law School.

Whether WWE could be held liable for failing to address such conditions depends on the terms of its talent contracts, Feldman said, adding that WWE attorneys are known for the scrupulousness with which they guard the publicly traded but privately controlled company from liability. WWE contracts tend to tilt most of the leverage toward the company, he said.

"This may be more of a moral problem than a legal problem," Feldman said.

Still, he said, the litigation currently facing the National Football League — over players' accusations that the league deliberately withheld information about the long-term effects of concussions — may offer arguments in favor of holding WWE liable for the health problems of acromegalic wrestlers. If the NFL litigation succeeds, he said, it will likely "open the floodgate" to similar lawsuits by athletes in other sports.

WWE established its Wellness Program in 2006, after star wrestler Eddie Guerrero suddenly died of acute heart failure, a result of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Under the program, Aegis Sciences Corporation annually tests performers for drug use, including steroids, and cardiac problems. In August 2007, Montel Porter, whose real name is Hassan Assad, was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart disorder in a routine checkup.

Dr. Bryan Donohue, a UPMC cardoiologist and WWE's cardiovascular consultant since 2008, said in his experience, WWE has never put commercial interests above the health of its performers, adding that many WWE executives are former wrestlers.

"The narrative is obvious, that the interests of WWE are antithetical to those of the talent, but I've found that they've been very responsive to things I've asked them to do," Donohue said. "I've never experienced any pushback on any issue."

While Donohue said he could not comment on Singh's case, he said the decision to operate on a pituitary tumor does not follow reflexively from a diagnosis of acromegaly. The timing, especially for adults, can be influenced by a range of factors.

Braunstein, the Cedars-Sinai endocrinologist, said he has seen several acromegalic patients who have refused surgery and even a growth hormone-reducing medication in hopes of preserving their gigantism. When he tells them that acromegaly shortens life expectancy, they often "shop around for other doctors," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sheryl Crow's Tumor Unlikely Cause of Memory Loss, Expert Says

Gary Miller/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- It's unlikely that singer Sheryl Crow's meningioma -- a tumor that occurs outside of the brain -- triggered her memory loss, a doctor said Wednesday.

In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the singer said that she'd found out about the tumor in November after going to the doctor to discuss memory problems.

"I worried about my memory so much that I went and got an MRI," she told the newspaper. "And I found out I have a brain tumor. And I was like, 'See? I knew there was something wrong.'"

It was just a month ago that Crow reportedly forgot the words to her song "Soak Up the Sun" during a concert in Florida.

But Dr. Michael Schulder, vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in New York, told ABC News Wednesday that Crow's commonly used treatment plan -- a series of MRI scans to follow the tumor's growth -- "suggests that it's not a very large tumor."

"The kind of symptoms she's describing [memory loss] that came and went....It seems unlikely they are the result of tumors unless she had a small seizure" that she was unaware of, Schulder said.

Schulder, who has not treated or examined Crow or seen her MRI, said that although meningiomas often do not cause any symptoms, headaches and seizures are commonly associated with the tumors. He said that tumors that caused memory loss and confused thinking tended to be larger and the symptoms persisted or worsened and might include personality changes as well.

"Either the tumor is bigger than everyone believes, or it [the memory issue] was a coincidence, or she had a seizure that she might not have known about," he said.

Meningiomas grow from the lining of the brain and inside the skull. Although most of them are benign -- and almost never go beyond the head -- and are considered less severe than those occurring within the brain, 1 percent to 2 percent are malignant and tend to grow back despite surgery and radiation.

Schulder said about 10,000 people a year in the United States are diagnosed with a meningioma. Research has linked meningiomas with breast cancer, he said. Crow is a breast-cancer survivor.

"Women -- middle age or older -- are more likely to get them [meningiomas]," Schulder said. "Women are more likely to get breast cancer than men as well, although either diagnosis can occur in a man....There is an underlying hormonal association with the two kinds of tumors [but] it's not well understood."

He said that although most meningiomas could be treated with surgery, those that were connected to critical structures like optic nerves were usually left alone.

According to Dr. Alan Cohen, chief of surgery at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, a large meningioma tumor could eventually become cancerous, but even if it remained benign, it could create pressure on the brain, resulting in vision or hearing loss, headaches, seizures or other problems.

Schulder said that not operating on the tumor meant that there was a chance it could grow. Depending on the tumor's size and location, continued growth could make later treatment more difficult and hazardous. He said the upside to not going the surgery route is that the tumor might grow so slowly or stop growing and the patient might not need treatment at all.

He said while surgery could remove a meningioma and could even cure a person, surgery alone posed a danger. Schulder said an "excellent" alternative treatment for patients is the noninvasive stereotactic radiosurgery, in which highly focused radiation beams treat small tumors during one or several sessions.

He said that nearly 95 percent of the time, "patients with meningiomas who receive [this treatment] have their tumor controlled."

Overall, Schulder said that women and men, including those diagnosed with breast cancer, should not be concerned. He said meningiomas were relatively rare tumors and those with breast cancer will have already been evaluated by their doctors.

Dr. Gene Barnett, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center, agreed, saying that even though the breast cancer-meningioma association was relatively well-known, "even then the risk of having meningioma is still very low."

"People who are 50 or older or women don't need to get MRI scans without the symptoms of a brain tumor," Schulder said. "Don't worry about that.

"A patient with breast cancer who's being followed by his or her doctor should trust the normal evaluation system. As long as they've been screened ... [they] should not long term be concerned or feel they should get MRI."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


JetBlue Pilot Rage Likely Not Panic; Drugs or Brain Tumor Possible

Scott Olson/Getty Images(AMARILLO, Texas) -- Clayton Osbon, the pilot who was subdued aboard JetBlue flight 191 after going into a rage, may have had a toxic reaction to infection, drugs or even an encephalitic event caused by a brain tumor.

On a routine flight from JFK Airport in New York to Las Vegas, Osbon "began acting erratically, flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing confused," according to sources.

"The captain of the plane just went berserk," passenger Wayne Holmes told ABC. "He came out of the other end of the plane -- came running back to the cockpit and he was shouting out these numbers -- 500 something. He started banging on the cockpit door."

A passenger subdued Osbon, a veteran captain, and the flight was diverted safely to Amarillo, Texas. There were 131 passengers and six crew members aboard.

Osbon has been "suspended" until questions about his medical condition have been cleared up, ABC has learned.

For now, authorities are saying Osbon, 49, suffered a panic attack. Yet there are still many unanswered questions.

"The JetBlue pilot's behavior is much more than a simple panic attack, which might occur as a result of a phobia or panic disorder," said Una McCann, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.

At one point, when a flight attendant asked Osbon what was wrong, he frantically replied, "You'd better start praying right now," and he then began shouting about al Qaeda, a bomb, and warning that the plane would crash, according to passengers on the flight.

"Rage is not a typical feature of uncomplicated panic, so there is clearly something additional that took place here," said McCann. "While JetBlue may not be misinforming the public when they say their pilot had a panic attack, they are not telling the full story."

Panic attacks can also occur in conjunction with paranoid psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks, but McCann said that Osbon's behavior looked more like a drug-induced toxic reaction.

Even a simple fever from an infection can cause hallucinations and confusion, she said. Also, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are more apt to surface in the teens and 20s. Osbon was 49.

The pilot remains in custody of authorities while under the care of medical professionals in Amarillo. He is expected be released from the medical facility later this week after a 72-hour hold, according to airline sources.

The rest of the flight crew has been taken off duty to help with the investigation and to decompress after the incident, sources said.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from panic attacks, which are characterized by a sudden and repeated fear of disaster or losing control, even when there is no real danger, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety disorder sufferers are mostly women.

Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event, anxiety disorders last at least six months and can get worse if they are not treated.

They can also occur along with other mental and physical illnesses, including substance abuse.

McCann said that doctors should be able to determine the cause of the pilot's erratic behavior during the next few days.

While hospitalized Osbon is expected to undergo toxic screening, including blood counts to make sure he has no infection, vital signs to see if his temperature is within normal ranges and a neurological exam that might include a scan of the brain, according to McCann.

"A brain tumor could do this," she said of his erratic behavior.

"They will also investigate things that can impact the central nervous system, like drugs," said McCann. "Drugs prescribed over the counter, and, in particular sleep deprivation, can turn someone over the edge."

Doctors will also look for use of stimulants for a potential toxic reaction. "Pilots often have weird shift work," according to McCann, and stimulant abuse is said to be prevalent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Surgical Device Stops Baby's Laughing Seizures

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Pediatric nurse Rhonda Bastolla thought something was wrong with son Nico the day he was born, Dec. 12, 2003.

Little did she know at the time that Nico would undergo a breakthrough surgery when he was 8 months old that would change the course of his life and get a whole company named after him.

When Bastolla and husband Mike brought Nico home from Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital that December, the infant nursed almost around the clock, as though he were starving. "He was never quiet and nothing would soothe him," his mother says.

Doctors suggested colic or other intestinal conditions, but Bastolla couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to it. Soon Nico began showing other unusual behavior. He laughed almost all day, so much so that his father dubbed him Captain Giggles.

When he was 2 months old, Rhonda Bastolla brought the baby to the hospital for a checkup. She got on the elevator with a group of doctors and other medical personnel. As usual, Nico was laughing, which is a behavior not typically seen in children until they are about 4 months old.

Several weeks of tests went by with no real answer except a vague diagnosis of failure to thrive. Nico was still ravenous and continued to laugh up to 18 hours a day. More worried than ever, Bastolla called the hospital and told them, "I'm bringing him in. Not only am I a mother but I'm a nurse. There is something wrong with this kid."

When she arrived at Children's she was adamant, telling a surprised staff, "I'm not leaving. I don't care if you call the police."

Nico was admitted for two more days of tests. That second night, "maybe 30 people walked into the room," Bastolla says.

Someone asked Bastolla to sit down as they began to explain the situation. There was nothing funny about Nico's laughing. He was having a huge amount of fits known as gelastic seizures, characterized by laughing, and they were caused by a brain tumor.

The mass was near Nico's hypothalamus, a critical structure deep in the brain that regulates everything from body temperature to emotional states. It was benign and non-growing, but the rare tumor would prevent Nico from developing normally.

Termed a hypothalamic hamartoma, the kind of growth Nico had is exceedingly rare. Very little data exist on how common they are but, anecdotally, researchers suggest the chances of having one are about a million to one.

Children with the condition sometimes go into rages and become violent as they get older. Nico was seizing up to 18 hours a day and his brain was being battered.

No matter how much Nico ate, the seizures were burning so many calories that he couldn't get enough food to grow normally. Nico's doctors explained to the Bastollas that the tumor could be removed, but that he would have to wait until he was anywhere from 2 to 4 years old. His brain was just too small for surgeons to operate in the delicate area just above the brain stem.

Such a timeline wasn't going to work for the couple. Mike Bastolla hit the Internet and found a support group that led him to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, which had treated cases such as Nico's in older children. Working with Nico's Pittsburgh doctor, the Bastollas got their son's case history presented to Barrow.

Several weeks later, Rhonda Bastolla received a call from the institute about an experimental surgical device. It had never been used on a patient, but Dr. Harold Rekate was ready to try it on her son.

Invented by Joe Mark and his team at what is now called the Nico Corp., in honor of its first patient, the instrument was designed to allow surgeons to operate on difficult-to-reach areas of the brain. A slender tube sucks up small portions of a tumor that are chopped off by a blade.

The Nico Myriad, as it is now called, slices hundreds of times a minute in a motion similar to gobbling, sort of like Pac-Man. A mechanical foot pedal gives the doctor precision control. It may sound retro, but its simplicity is inspired.

The beauty of the new surgical tool was its small scale as well as its precision. It would require only a tiny incision and was flexible enough to get to difficult areas in a baby's brain with less risk of damaging surrounding structures.

It generates no heat, which further reduces risk. Another major benefit is that it allows the surgeon to work quickly, which is especially important in a small child. Generally, the shorter the operation, the shorter the recovery time.

In August 2004, the family flew out to Arizona where 8-month-old Nico was prepped for surgery. During the operation Mike Bastolla recalls, "The clock on the wall didn't seem like it was moving at all."

For the next six years, a critical time in a child's development, Nico was totally free from seizures. Last summer, he began having occasional episodes, which are regulated by medication. No one is sure of their origin, but the tumor has not grown back.

Nico Corp. has now performed more than 1,500 surgeries with the Myriad, according to company executives. About 400 of the cases were pediatric.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jerome Harrison: NFL Trade Leads to Cancer Diagnosis

NFL Handout(DETROIT) -- A midseason trade may have saved NFL running back Jerome Harrison’s life.

Harrison, who was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles from the Detroit Lions, was undergoing a physical to seal the deal when doctors found a brain tumor, ESPN reported.

The surprise diagnosis, the details of which are still not known, voided the trade, but meant Harrison could start life-saving treatment.

The 28-year-old missed practice Thursday and will likely be out for the rest of the season. Harrison was scheduled for Friday afternoon surgery, according to the Detroit Free Press. He’s expected to get back in the game after kicking cancer, ESPN reported.

Lions teammates of Harrison told the Detroit Free Press that he had been experiencing headaches prior to the diagnosis, and that the problem worsened forcing Harrison to wear sunglasses during practices and later be fitted for a visor.

Harrison is not the first athlete to catch a lucky break and learn he had a hidden tumor. In July, 25-year-old golfer Chris Logan was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after he was hit in the head by a rogue golf ball at the AT&T National tournament in West Chester, Pa. After surgery and radioactive iodine treatment, Logan’s doctors say he’s cancer-free.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Steve Jobs Regretted Delaying Cancer Surgery 9 Months, Biographer Says

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Steve Jobs, the visionary Apple co-founder who died earlier this month at 56, admitted to biographer Walter Isaacson that for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer -- a decision he later regretted as his health declined.

In advance of the Monday release of his book, Steve Jobs: A Biography, Isaacson told the CBS News program 60 Minutes that Jobs said he initially felt the surgery would be too invasive.

"I've asked [Jobs why he didn't get an operation earlier] and he said, 'I didn't want my body to be opened...I didn't want to be violated in that way,'" Isaacson says in an interview excerpt posted Thursday on the CBS News website.

How could Jobs have made such a decision?

"I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking...we talked about this a lot," Isaacson told CBS News. "He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it....I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner."

Jobs, fascinated by Eastern mysticism in his youth, believed in alternative herbal treatments, and sources have told ABC News in the past that they thought he minimized the seriousness of his condition. One source close to Jobs said he kept his medical problems private, even from members of Apple's board of directors -- who finally had to persuade him his health was of critical importance to Apple's success and the value of its stock to shareholders.

Ramzi Amri, a researcher in surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, wrote a controversial piece last week about Jobs' aversion to mainstream medicine, and argued that Jobs may have hastened his own death.

"I respect the privacy of, and in no way wish to offend, anyone mourning his passing," he wrote. But Jobs had a rare neuroendocrine tumor that was far easier for Western medicine to treat than "ordinary" pancreatic cancer, said Amri. He instead sought alternative treatments.

"This was, of course, a freedom he had all the rights to take," said Amri, "but given the circumstances it seems sound to assume that Mr. Jobs' choice for alternative medicine could have led to an unnecessarily early death."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Diets Disrupt Cancer Cells?

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- In the medical world, there have been many claims for anti-cancer foods. Now researchers are studying not what those foods might do to cancer cells, but the effect they might have on the environment around the cancer.
Experts are saying that an understanding of the tumor environment could aid doctors in developing new prevention methods and treatment for cancer, according to a USA Today report.

For example, researchers are investigating the benefits of "anti-cancer" diets that may help regulate both inflammation and new blood vessel growth. "Anti-inflammatory" diets include those common in Asia and Mediterranean countries -- fatty fish, soy, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and even green tea.  

Doctor William Li of the Angiogenesis Foundation in Boston says, "There are things we can do as individuals that don't involve doctors and that may influence the microenvironment."  

For example, researchers have studied non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin, as a way to reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. At UCLA, doctors are studying the effect of drugs called "beta-blockers" on breast cancer patients. The drugs cause a "fight-or-flight" response in the nervous system.  Early studies of patients who took the drugs before and after breast cancer diagnosis showed a lower risk of relapse and death. These findings were first reported in USA Today.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


12-Pound Tumor Swallows Man's Face

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Jose Mestre's face was consumed by a 12-pound tumor, an explosive growth of blood vessels that blinded him in one eye and invaded his mouth, making it difficult to breathe and nearly impossible to eat.

Doctors in his native Portugal had given up hope that they could operate on the 53-year-old former traffic guard, and Mestre had resigned himself to the fact that he surely would die.

But now Mestre is on the road to recovery.

He was born with a venous malformation, also called a hemangioma, one that had begun growing uncontrollably at the age of 14. These tumors typically increase in size during puberty and his had begun to distort all of his facial features.

Eating was difficult, causing bleeding on his tongue. Mestre's left eye was also completely destroyed as the tumor literally swallowed his face.

His mother was a Jehovah's Witness -- a religious denomination that bans blood transfusions -- and she wanted her son to follow her faith. But three years ago, Mestre's mother died and his younger sister became his guardian and became more proactive in seeking medical care.

The biggest debate was whether Mestre should have facial allotransplantation -- or a human face transplant. Mestre and his sister chose surgery, which was also dangerous.

Mestre's journey took him from Portugal to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago, where employees raised money to house him for three months and plastic surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon performed three risky procedures to save the man's face.

In the first procedure over the course of three months, Mestre underwent a tracheostomy to give him a protected airway. Ninety-eight percent of the tumor was removed. In the second surgery, doctors took out a small residual portion of the tumor and began reconstruction of his mouth and nose. An additional tumor on his tongue was also removed. In a third procedure, doctors fed a nasal gastric tube into Mestre to maintain proper nutrition. They repaired skin tissue that had broken down after the two previous surgeries.

His doctors say the tumor is not likely to grow back and that Mestre's future holds promise. He may need minor surgery to his gums or tongue, but he is not longer in danger of losing his life. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio