Endoscopic mucosal resection helps patient avoid surgery

In 2015, after 25 years of traversing the globe for an airline, Catherine Arellano was enjoying her retirement traveling for fun with her husband, Solon. But in May of that year, an endoscopy at another hospital revealed a large benign mass in her colon. Catherine was told that her only treatment option was surgery to remove 10 inches of her colon. Avoiding surgery and a possible colostomy was important to Catherine. “I thought it would take away from my quality of life,” she says. “It didn’t feel right that I wasn’t presented with other, less invasive options.” A second opinion yields another polyp removal option Catherine’s story isn’t uncommon. Most patients with complex colon polyps like hers are referred for surgical polyp removal. The colon wall typically is only 4-to-5 millimeters thick, and many providers believe these large or flat lesions are too difficult to remove endoscopically, and surgery is the only option. While endoscopic surgery has advanced since the first polyp was removed in 1973, there’s still risk involved. And despite the best efforts of the surgical team, there are complications during surgery that can lead to death. Catherine’s husband encouraged her to seek a second opinion. He’s a patient at MD Anderson’s Endoscopic Center receiving treatment for Barrett’s Esophagus – a pre-cancerous condition. Catherine met with his physician, Marta Davila, M.D., chair ad interim of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, who felt surgery for her case wasn’t medically necessary. “There have been great advances in endoscopic techniques over the past 10 years that allow us to treat patients,” Davila says. “It used to be that endoscopy was mostly...