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February 5, 2012
Sportsmen who came back from cancer
Yuvraj Singh has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy in the US. A member of Yuvraj's medical team, Dr Nitesh Rohatgi, informed ESPNcricinfo that Yuvraj's condition is called "mediastinal seminoma," a germ-cell tumour located between his two lungs. The condition, Rohatgi said, is neither lung cancer nor a tumour that had spread into the lungs. Mediastinal seminoma is a rare tumour which forms less than 1% of cancers on the whole.
Rohatgi, a senior medical oncologist at a Delhi hospital, said: "We are very lucky to know that this is a seminoma variety of germ-cell tumour which are mostly curable with therapy and moreover would be unlikely to cause any detriment to Yuvraj's career in the long term."
On Wednesday Yuvraj will begin the third of his nine weeks of chemotherapy in the USA. "In the first few days Yuvi may not feel very good," Rohatgi said, "he may feel nauseous, but starting this week he will be on the mend and may even do a bit of training as he improves, under the guidance of a specialist physiotherapist from the BCCI."
The chemotherapy has been planned, Rohatgi said, with the aim of ensuring Yuvraj can return to full fitness and readiness for cricket. He said Yuvraj should be able to start active training in about ten weeks. "If I was asked: will Yuvraj Singh the person be cured, I will say very likely yes. If you ask: will we see the return of Yuvraj Singh the cricketer, I would say most likely yes and he will return with the same fervour that he had when he left. In all likelihood, he should be on the field on May 1."
Rohatgi said Yuvraj's family had been reluctant to divulge his whereabouts because, "it is important Yuvi has time to himself to focus on his recovery. He has been reading; he has read Lance Armstrong's books, he is playing video games, he is committed to his therapy and recovery."
Yuvraj's doctors in the USA, working in collaboration with his team in India, were confident of his recovery. Rohatgi said that in their vast experience with sportsmen with a similar condition they have had many positive outcomes and even seen athletes return to the field. Germ-cell tumours are found to be more common in young people and in athletes.
Rohatgi denied that there had been a wrong diagnosis by an Indian hospital, as was reported, or that Yuvraj's chemotherapy dose was reduced following Ayurvedic treatment. "The diagnosis that was given in India," he said, "was precise and reconfirmed by doctors in the USA without needing a repeat biopsy. It had helped to get the chemotherapy started almost immediately." The doctor said Ayurveda had not influenced Yuvraj's present treatment and that it was "wrong" to send out a message that Ayurvedic treatment cures cancer or can effectively supplement chemotherapy.
Yuvraj has not played competitive cricket since the Tests against West Indies last November, when news of his tumour became public. He had originally hoped to make a comeback in the tri-series in Australia, but last month it was announced that he would not be fit in time for the IPL, which begins in April.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur