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Mesa doctor sets world record in tumor-removal surgery

MESA, Ariz. — A 17-centimeter tumor was no match for a Mesa gynecologist … and it earned him a world record, too.

“Seventeen centimeters is, about, maybe the size of a junior-sized soccer ball,” Dr. Greg Marchand said, a gynecologist with Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa.

The World Record Academy recently acknowledged Marchand and his surgical team for the size of the ovarian tumor they removed in a 2015 surgery.

The process involved “in-bag marcellation.” Marchand placed a plastic bag around the tumor through skin incisions, then brought the lip of the bag to the mouth of the incision. He broke the mass apart inside the bag, then took the pieces out.

“It’s a way to break things into pieces, without spilling the pieces inside the abdomen,” Marchand said.

If cancerous material spilled back into the abdomen the cancer could have spread and worsened the patient’s prognosis.

The technique has been around for a while, but Marchand – a testicular-cancer survivor – said he developed his method to spare patients agonizing post-operative pain and lengthy recovery times.

“I know what it’s like to face a diagnosis of cancer,” he said. “In my opinion, advancements in the surgical treatment of cancer are just as important as the newest cancer-fighting drugs and chemotherapy agents.

“If we can use minimally invasive surgery to take some of the recovery time and complications out of cancer surgery, then I think we’ve really done a lot of good for patients fighting cancer.”

At first, Marchand said, he didn’t think of submitting the surgery details for any record award.

“The idea first came to me after talking to some of my friends and colleagues,” he said.

“I was really humbled to hear many of them say that they had never heard of a minimally invasive cancer staging surgery on that large of a mass.

“One of my colleagues actually said, ‘That has to be some kind of record.’ It kind of stuck in my head, so after I talked about it with my office staff … [who] did check to see if it was a world record, and published it.

“I really do hope this helps bring attention to promoting minimally invasive surgery.”

Marchand has another world record. In 2008 he set a Guinness World Record for the laparoscopic removal of the largest uterus (7 pounds, noncancerous).

However, Guinness declined to recognize any kind of record for the 2015 surgery.

“[Guinness] said it was too specific to create a record for,” said Kirsty Brooks, Marchand’s public-relations manager.

“We discussed the importance of recognizing cutting-edge surgical excellence in the field of cancer surgery … and they agreed to recognize the category after extensively researching the accomplishment.”

Marchand’s staff, and the staff of the Academy, worked together to verify the record – a process that took two years.