India Today - "Does Yuvi have cancer?" When a top Sahara India official asked India Today that question with unremitting intensity in November 2011 as cricketer Yuvraj Singh's health troubles hit the headlines, the big picture was still unclear. Pieces of the puzzle came together on February 4. Just as news leaked out that Yuvraj was battling cancer, Sahara India, the main sponsor of Indian cricket team, threatened to pull out. The official reason? Yuvraj's health.
The news, leaked by an unexpected source, Yuvraj's own physiotherapist, Dr Jatin Chaudhury, was confirmed on February 6. His oncologist, Dr Nikesh Rohatgi of Max HealthCare, Delhi, said in a press conference that Yuvraj had an unusual cancer, a mediastinal seminoma. After months of stony silence, the BCCI went public the same day, "Please respect Yuvraj's privacy.
Easier said than done, when an unfamiliar disease label does the rounds. "It's a tumour of the testis," says thoracic surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. "But in extremely rare cases, it can also appear on its own in other parts of the body, say, the abdomen or the chest." Going by his reports, Yuvraj has a fairly large lump outside the left lung, which is sandwiched between the heart and the lung, in the mediastinum, that is, the middle section of the chest cavity. "It's a cancer that affects males primarily between the age of 20 and 35," Kumar says. "It's a rising menace, and for reasons not understood yet, seems to affect affluent sections of society." But a worryingly long time has gone by since Yuvraj's problem started. "That's because they are asymptomatic," explains Dr Raja Dhar, respiratory physician with Fortis Hospital, Kolkata. "Early symptoms-shortness of breath or swelling of the face-often go undetected." Research also shows that late detection is typical in people leading hectic lives.
Between the need for privacy and fervid public curiosity, far too many claims have complicated the issue. Who came up with the concept of a "non-malignant lymphoma" in November 2011? Lymphomas are by definition malignant. His mother, Shabnam Singh, has called it a "soft tissue growth", yet a Delhi doctor is claiming that he detected "malignancy" in May-June 2011. Chaudhury is asserting that detection got delayed by "wrong diagnosis" and reports being stolen from his car.
Yuvraj is being his typical self, exchanging banter with the hospital staff at the Cancer Research Institute in Boston, US, says his father Yograj Singh. His doctors in the US and in India have sent out a word of reassurance: "It's 95 per cent curable. With the help of therapy, Yuvraj should be back on track by May."
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