Nearly 50-pound tumor removed from Tucson woman in life-saving procedure

2014-06-09T15:00:00Z 2014-06-10T08:12:38Z Nearly 50-pound tumor removed from Tucson woman in life-saving procedureVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A nearly 50-pound tumor was removed from a Tucson woman in a high-risk procedure performed by surgeons at The University of Arizona Medical Center.

See a photo of the removed tumor by clicking here. Warning: Graphic image.

The procedure to remove the tumor from Marcey DiCaro's abdomen, in mid-April, lasted 10 hours, according to a news release from UAMC. 

Dr. Tun Jie, interim chief of the Division of Abdominal Transplant Surgery in the UA Department of Surgery and his team, including Dr. Angela Echeverria, general surgery chief resident, performed the procedure. 

The tumor invaded DiCaro's vena cava and kidney.

"After we dissected the tumor off the inferior vena cava, it looked like Swiss cheese,” Echeverria said in the news release. “There were so many holes in it due to tumor invasion. We took that segment out and reconstructed a new inferior vena cava.”

One of DiCaro's kidneys and her gall bladder also had to be removed. 

DiCaro stayed in the hospital for two weeks before she could return home. 

“She has had the most impressive recovery of any patient I have had,” Dr. Echeverria said.

About three years ago DiCaro began noticing her abdomen getting bigger but thought she was gaining weight and then began feeling pain in the area, the release said. 

A scan in March 2012 showed she had a large tumor, but DiCaro, who was uninsured found it difficult to find an insurance plan that would cover surgery to remove it, because it was considered a pre-existing condition. 

She found a plan and scheduled the surgery in 2013, but it was cancelled the night before due to more insurance issues. 

By the time she became insured through the Affordable Care Act in 2014, the tumor had grown. 

If it was not removed, the tumor would have been fatal. 

"I am grateful for insurance and I was immensely happy with my care. I felt great confidence in Dr. Jie’s abilities," DiCaro said in the release. "The whole team approach was wonderful. I’m happy to be going on walks and getting back in the pool and getting out and enjoying life."

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