A 45-year-old woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had her right breast removed at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) last month. But now, AIIMS can’t decide if she had cancer in the first place.
The woman’s post-surgery report said there was no cancer. But the AIIMS establishment says that was probably only because her tissue samples got swapped with someone else’s. Here’s what happened.
Oncosurgeon Dr Anurag Srivastav and his team operated on Kumud Devi of Bihar on April 3 after her cyto-pathology report showed she had cancer. Kumud had been advised surgery after she underwent tests for a cyst in her right breast.
“Before the operation, the doctors asked me if they should remove only the cyst or the entire breast. I told them to remove the breast only if it was absolutely necessary,” says Vikas Kumar Pandey, Kumud’s son.
However, the post-operation report said: “...On cut section no definite growth is identified... No residual tumour is seen in the... sections studied.”
Despite this, AIIMS insists there was definite evidence of cancer, going by Kumud’s mammography and Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) reports. According to the institute, the post-operation report showed a negative result because Kumud’s tissue samples got mixed up with someone else’s while they were being moved from the operation theatre to the pathology department.
“Reports from Breast Imaging Radiology Data System (BRIAD) revealed grade V, which is an indication of definite cancer. The patient was subjected to FNAC where the pathologist also confirmed cancer,” AIIMS spokesperson Dr YK Gupta said.
“Looking at the histopathology report (post surgery), it appears that there could be a mix-up of tissues, when transporting from operation theatre to pathology department, as the tissues are sent in multiples,” he said. Dr Gupta added that AIIMS is in the process of creating a foolproof system of transporting tissues from operation theatre to pathology to avoid such mistakes in future.