Hector Hernandez's "belly of beer" was a 77-pound cancerous tumor

Hector Hernandez before the surgery, left, and after the surgery, during which the doctors removed a 77-pound tumor from his abdomen. (Family photos via Keck Medicine of USC)

Warning: this story contains a graphic image of a 77-pound tumor.

It seemed that every book went straight to the belly.

Hector Hernandez said that he had always been "a big guy", so he did not notice a problem a few years ago, when his arms and legs seemed to be getting smaller and that his belly was growing bigger.

A 47-year-old from Downey, Calif., He also began having stomach burns and constipation problems and noticed that he sometimes had difficulty catching his breath.

At 300 pounds, he said, strangers had begun to watch, and friends were making jokes about his "beer belly", although he said he rarely drank the drink.

When he first talked about the problem to a doctor, he said, the doctor dismissed him, telling him that some people were carrying a different weight from that of other people.

"I just thought I was fat," Hernandez told a phone interview Tuesday with the Washington Post.

But Hernandez said his stomach continued to feel "heavy" and "hard" to the touch, so he got a second opinion.

In the end, he was diagnosed with a retroperitoneal liposarcoma, a rare but cancerous tumor that forms in fat cells, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Doctors do not know when the tumor started to develop.

Or why?

But he weighed 77 pounds, according to his surgeon.

Hernandez said that he did not know how to feel about the tumor nor about the surgical procedure necessary to remove it.

At first, he said, he was "shocked" and "confused", but also relieved to finally know what was wrong.

"I have had a lot of support and prayers from my family and friends," he said, pointing out that they were raising money to help her recover . "I finally left it in the hands of God."

Hernandez surgeon William Tseng, a surgeon-oncologist and adjunct professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said that liposarcomas develop over time and can grow to a considerable size, although they do not not tend to spread or cause major problems. Tseng, a Sarcoma specialist, said that throughout his career, he had surgically removed dozens of them, which usually weighed between 20 and 30 pounds.

"It's probably the biggest I've removed," he told La Poste, referring to Hernandez's tumor.

Retroperitoneal liposarcoma of 77 lbs. (Courtesy of Keck Medicine of USC)

During an operation that lasted for several hours this summer, Tseng removed the huge tumor, which would have spared Hernandez's major blood vessels and organs, even though he had had to cut a kidney damaged. Tseng said that bleeding is the biggest risk associated with surgery and that patients may die on the operating table, but that there have been no complications in the case of Hernandez.

The surgeon stated that Hernandez would not need to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but that, given the frequent return of liposarcomas, Hernandez had to undergo periodic checkups to keep up with the evolution of the situation.

"I was really lucky," said Hernandez.

Now, Hernandez said that he felt "totally different" – more energetic and many, many lighter books. However, he said, he does not represent "still not 100%".

Read more:

A woman presented to a hospital struggling to breathe – because of a 61-pound tumor in her uterus

The risky surgery to remove the 132-pound tumor from a woman who has increased by 10 pounds a week

A grandmother discovered why she could not get rid of her belly. It was a 140-pound tumor.

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