A mum went to have a scan during her pregnancy and discovered she had a tumour – “as big as her baby”.
Susan O’Flanagan was 20-weeks pregnant when the 14cm mass was detected on her right kidney during a routine scan.
Doctors were shocked to find the giant lump – almost as big as her baby – during the routine 20-week check-up.
Due to her pregnancy, it meant medical staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital were unable to use CT scans or a biopsy to find out whether the tumour was cancerous before it was removed.
Mum-of-three Susan was induced at 34 weeks and gave birth to Archie.
Just four weeks later, in June last year, she had robotic surgery to remove her right kidney and the giant tumour.
Luckily the cancer had not spread outside her kidney and since then tests have come back all clear.
Now Archie is ten months old and doing well and Susan is left marvelling at how lucky she was and how Archie inadvertently saved her life.
The 40-year-old, who lives in Greenwich, south east London, said: “It was only by chance that the sonographer saw the tumour because Archie was lying the wrong way around so she needed to hold the ultrasound probe in a different position to measure his head. When she told me she’d seen a mass there I was so scared.
“There was a chance I would need to abort the pregnancy so that I could have surgery to remove the tumour quickly – it was a very worrying time.
“Luckily regular MRI scans showed that the tumour wasn’t growing so teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ decided that it was safe for me to continue with the pregnancy while being closely monitored.
“As the baby grew, and with the pressure from my tumour, it became increasingly uncomfortable and painful, and I felt ill all the time.
“One of the scans even showed the baby kicking the tumour.
“I didn’t have any symptoms from my cancer so if I hadn’t been pregnant I may not have found out about it until a later stage.
“I don’t think Archie will ever realise how special he is.”
During a robotic procedure, surgeons control the robot’s ‘arms’ from a console.
They look down a small camera at the end of one arms to see inside the patient and the machine gives them a 3D HD view while they operate, eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement.
Mr Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “This was a very unusual case – we perform 450 cases of robotic surgery a year at Guy’s Hospital as part of our large robotic surgery programme but this was different to anything we’d done before.
“Kidney cancer is very rare in a young woman and this was more unusual still because Susan was pregnant.
“The urology team worked closely with the maternity team to ensure we could deliver the best possible care for Susan and her baby.”