Sometimes even the most sophisticated medical tests and technology fall short of a doctor’s experience and intuition. Just ask Edith Odabashian, whose Lynn Cancer Institute oncologist suspected there was something going on with her health that several different tests had failed to confirm.

Ms Odabashian, a retired German-born fashion designer who has called Pompano Beach home for more than 30 years, began experiencing unusual symptoms in March 2021 that she thought were related to an ovarian cyst. She had the cyst for decades and was seen annually by her gynecologist, Michael Fleischer, MD, at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health South Florida. It was Dr. Fleischer who had referred her to the hospital’s Lynn Women’s Institute for her annual mammograms.

Edith Odabashian of Pompano Beach thanks Thomas Morrissey, MD of the Lynn Cancer Institute for his perseverance and for saving her life

Ms. Odabashian remembers the onset of her symptoms. “One day I was running errands, I was just pushing my cart and felt a sharp pain. The next week I started having fluid leaking from my vagina and pains, so I went to see Dr. Fleischer right away,” she recalls. “He did some tests and an ultrasound confirmed that the ovarian cyst was still there, and it also showed that there was a large amount of fluid in the uterus.” Dr Fleischer ordered a CA-125 blood antigen test for Ms Odabashian. The results came back “on the good side”, he told her, meaning there was a possibility that she has cancer.

Something was wrong. Ms. Odabashian’s pain and drainage of fluid from her vagina continued. The presence of any fluid drainage or discharge from the vagina or any vaginal bleeding in patients like Mrs. Odabashian who have already gone through menopause is abnormal and often an early sign of uterine cancer.

Dr. Fleischer referred his patient to Thomas Morrissey, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at the Lynn Cancer Institute, part of Boca Raton Regional Hospital. As part of his assessment, Dr. Morrissey ordered a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis.

Thomas Morrissey, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at Lynn Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida

“Mrs. Odabashian underwent a CT scan which revealed uneven thickening of the lining of her uterus,” Dr. Morrissey recalled, adding that this was likely the cause of the new vaginal drainage she was having. “Something was wrong , however, and we needed to determine whether or not it was cancer.” A biopsy of the uterine lining performed in his office revealed atypical cells suspicious for cancer.

Given that she was beyond her childbearing years – “A woman does not divulge her age”, she laughs – Dr Morrissey recommended a total hysterectomy or the removal of her uterus and ovaries . “I was so surprised,” recalls Ms. Odabashian.

Although she had complete confidence in Dr Morrissey, Ms Odabashian was reluctant to accept his recommendation to have surgery. But then, she says, something happened that changed her mind. A deeply religious woman, she says God once spoke to her. “He only said one word – ‘Cancer’. And that was all I needed, so I scheduled my surgery with Dr Morrissey, and I knew God would show us where my cancer.

Shortly after, Ms Odabashian underwent a robot-assisted laparoscopic total hysterectomy and the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. According to Dr. Morrissey, this state-of-the-art approach means smaller incisions, faster recovery time and a quicker return to normal activities. “Patients usually come home from the hospital the same day,” he says.

Ms Odabashian’s uterus was sent to the pathology lab for analysis during the operation. Sure enough, he tested positive for cancer. “It was very early cancer of the endometrial lining of her uterus,” says Dr Morrissey, who diagnosed her with stage 1A endometrial cancer. “He had only grown 20% of the way into the uterine wall, so luckily we were able to detect and treat his cancer at a very early stage.” Because the cancer was detected so early, no further treatment was needed, he says.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological cancer, says Dr. Morrissey, with more than 80,000 cases diagnosed each year. “It’s also the most curable – if it’s taken early, ”he underlines. “Any vaginal bleeding or new vaginal discharge or drainage in postmenopausal patients is abnormal. If you are going through menopause and you have vaginal bleeding or discharge or fluid drainage, you should be seen by a gynecologist immediately.

For her part, Ms. Odabashian is grateful to Dr. Morrissey for his perseverance in her case. “I feel very lucky. Until then, all the lab reports said I didn’t have cancer and all my relatives told me I didn’t have cancer,” she says. “But Dr Morrissey thought I had cancer and he insisted on that. And he was right. He saved my life.”

Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital

These days, Ms Odabashian is feeling better and is getting back to her daily routine with the help of a home health aide. She continues to see Dr. Morrissey and Dr. Fleischer every six months and has her mammograms and other health checks. She says that whenever possible, she prefers to have her health care needs taken care of at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital, which is home to the Lynn Cancer Institute, Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute and d other leading programs and services.

“I was so impressed with the Lynn Women’s Institute and the Lynn Cancer Institute,” says Ms. Odabashian. “The people there were so nice and treated me so well. They had all the latest equipment and I got my test results quickly. And, of course, they looked after me so well. with my cancer.

Tags: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, endometrial cancer, Lynn Cancer Institute, Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute, Michael Fleischer MD, Thomas Morrissey MD