Last Christmas day, Scott Fischer felt bloated and uncomfortable. The 47-year-old Manalapan resident and comic book store owner thought he had food poisoning, but the symptoms persisted and he went to the Emergency Department at CentraState a few days later. When a CT scan revealed that his appendix had ruptured, he was rushed to surgery.
Michael Menack, MD, a board-certified surgeon on staff at CentraState, performed minimally invasive surgery to remove Scott’s perforated appendix and repair a hernia and bowel obstruction. After a restful hospital stay, Scott was feeling great. Then the pathology report came in—and the results indicated appendix cancer.
“It was the worst news I ever heard,” says Scott. “You never expect that a cancer diagnosis will happen to you.”
A Complex Course of Treatment
Appendix cancer is very rare and is typically found during an appendectomy (removal of the appendix), as in Scott’s case. Because the appendix is connected to the colon, cancer cells can spread to that area and treatment can be complex even after an appendectomy.
“This type of cancer has a high risk of relapse in the abdominal cavity, so chemotherapy and sometimes additional surgery are recommended to give patients the best chance of a cure,” explains board-certified hematologist/oncologist Bhavesh Balar, MD, who was recommended to Scott by Dr. Menack.
Scott began chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Balar, who then referred him to a specialty center for a complex cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy). This nine-hour procedure removed about a foot of Scott’s large intestine while injecting chemotherapy directly into the area of concern.
Once he recovered from this surgery, Scott returned to his chemotherapy regimen with Dr. Balar. In total, he completed 12 three-day cycles of chemotherapy. During each cycle, he was able to use a portable chemotherapy pump to undergo two days of treatment at home, making it more convenient.
Very pleased with Scott’s recovery progress, Dr. Balar will continue to monitor him closely for the next few years—and the future looks bright. Scott is thankful for his care, and he’s glad that he went to the Emergency Department when he noticed signs of a problem.
“You know yourself better than anyone else, so when something seems out of the norm, get it checked,” recommends Scott. “I’m so happy to be moving on with my life.”