India news March 19, 2012

Yuvraj back to normal in couple of months - doctors

Yuvraj Singh's response to chemotherapy has left his medical team "fairly confident" that the mediastinal seminoma he had been diagnosed with "will not come back." Dr Nitesh Rohatgi, a key member of Yuvraj's medical team, told ESPNcricinfo that according to their assessment, Yuvraj could "get back to normal activity in about a couple of month's time." Yuvraj underwent three cycles of chemotherapy, the last one in hospital before being discharged, and is expected to return to India in the first half of April.

Rohatgi, senior medical oncologist at Delhi's Max Cancer Centre, said Yuvraj, diagnosed with a mediastinal seminoma, a germ-cell tumour between his lungs, had responded well to therapy. "He has had the standard treatment for such tumours, which is three cycles of chemotherapy followed by a strict protocol based follow-up and we are cautiously confident that it will not come back."

The doctors' progressive assessment over the period of almost two months of chemotherapy had indicated that the "tumour mass" detected earlier "has now shrunk significantly. The cancer protein (tumour marker) has come down faster than expected and both the signs together are reassuring of the fact that the cancer should be on the way out of his system."

Yuvraj has been in the United States for treatment since end January. He underwent chemotherapy in Indianapolis at the Indiana University's IU Simon Cancer Center under the supervision of Rohatgi and Lawrence H Einhorn, who had headed the treatment of cycling champion Lance Armstrong in 1996.

Following the three cycles of chemotherapy, Rohatgi said that while Yuvraj's tumour markers had "normalised", his readings of the liver and kidney test remain "robust", indicating that the chemotherapy has not irreversibly damaged his body. "All the side-effects he has had so far are reversible and we've seen signs of quick recovery between cycles of chemotherapy."

When asked about a specific time frame for Yuvraj's return to full fitness, Rohatgi said it was, "variable." "In our experience, mine from cases in the UK and Dr Einhorn's from the US, patients get back to good normal activity in a month's time. Whether that also amounts to excellent training capabilities we will only find out in time. Yuvraj is very strong-minded, he shows a sign of desperation to out-perform himself."

Yuvraj will remain in the US for between two to three weeks due to what Rohatgi called a "safety period" that had to be observed following chemotherapy. His next step would now primarily be to get back to fitness and go through a follow-up and check-up routine through blood tests and CT scans, "none of which would interrupt any of Yuvraj's schedules."

Along with physical recovery, Rohatgi said Yuvraj had mentally handled the chemotherapy very well. "The common psychological effect on patients of cancer and chemotherapy can be depression, but Yuvraj has tackled it very well. He came across to us as someone who said when this gets over, let me get back on track."

On Sunday, Yuvraj had tweeted about his chemotherapy sessions being complete.

While in the US, where he's been since the last week of January, Yuvraj has done as much gym work as was physically possible during his treatment, played pool, watched the Superbowl game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots and interacted with a few hundred Indian-origin students from the Indiana University after he was recognised when on one of his walks along the Indianapolis canal.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo