April 2, 2015 2:50 pm
Updated: April 2, 2015 4:13 pm

Rob Ford and cancer: What’s next in his battle against liposarcoma?

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WATCH: Toronto city Councillor and former Mayor Rob Ford announced Thursday that his cancerous tumour has shrunk enough for doctors to operate.

He went through 27 days of radiation and five rounds of chemotherapy during his months-long fight against cancer. Rob Ford will now go under the knife to remove a cancerous tumour from his abdomen.

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The Toronto councillor said doctors managed to shrink a 14 centimetre tumour found in his lower abdomen so that he could undergo the surgery. The shrinkage is enough to operate on, however, not as much as doctors had hoped.

“At least I have a chance,” Ford said at a Thursday press conference.

READ MORE: Rob Ford to have cancer surgery May 11

Ford said he met with Mount Sinai Hospital surgeons this week who revealed the results of his latest MRI and CT scans. It’ll be a “very serious” operation and he’ll be in hospital for 10 to 14 days.

Last September, Ford was diagnosed with liposarcoma just a week after he was admitted to hospital for “unbearable” pain.

The cancer is extremely rare and the tumour is fairly aggressive but doctors are optimistic, Dr. Zane Cohen had said at a press conference at Mount Sinai Hospital on Sept. 17.

Cohen is an internationally recognized colorectal surgeon and the doctor leading the mayor’s care team at the Toronto hospital which specializes in treating sarcoma.

READ MORE: Patients, families shed light on chemotherapy

“To get to the size it is now, it’s often several years,” Cohen said when discussing Ford’s tumour in September. “We are treating this very aggressively, in order to eradicate the tumour,” he had said at the time.

What is liposarcoma and why is it so rare?

Liposarcoma is a rare type of cancer that begins in the fat cells. It’s in the soft tissues and could start in any part of the body – the tendons, fatty tissues, nerves, blood vessels, and muscles.

Sarcomas comprise only about one per cent of all cancers with 60 different cell types.

READ MORE: What’s next for Rob Ford following cancer diagnosis?

“That’s what makes it a very rare tumour and a very difficult tumour,” Cohen said. He couldn’t provide an estimate on the percentage of people with this cancer who survive five years, the standard benchmark for cancer survival.

“This is something that’s uncommon, something that would be unexpected for the majority of people when you’re talking about abdominal tumours,” Dr. Jeff Rothenstein told Global News. Rothenstein is an oncologist with Lakeridge Health and the Durham Regional Cancer Centre.

“In this one per cent, there are many different subtypes, they all look different under a microscope and they have different behaviours,” he explained.

Colon, colorectal, and ovarian (for women) cancers tend to be far more common.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

© 2015 Shaw Media

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