Five-year-old Sonal Jain was first diagnosed with a viral fever and then for a mouth infection by the general practitioner. After several months of wrong diagnosis and treatment, Sonal died from a “mystery illness” — later diagnosed as blood cancer.
With over 15,000 paediatric cancer cases reported from the city and its adjoining districts every year and the several hundred “botch-up” cases arising in the city due to wrong and inadequate diagnosis, the paediatric haemato-oncology wing of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics has taken up the task of educating city doctors, especially paediatricians and general practitioners, about the correct procedure of treatment.
Come April, and city doctors will sit together for a workshop, at which they will be taught the standard treatment procedure that should be followed in children suffering from cancer.
At present, leukaemia accounts for 70 per cent of the paediatric cancer cases, followed closely by brain tumours, cancer of the kidneys, soft-tissue tumours, liver and eye cancer.
The April programme, to be held at the Subodh Mitra Memorial Cancer Hospital in Salt Lake, will have experts in paediatric oncology training general practitioners on the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Welcoming the move, paediatric surgeon Ashok Ray admitted that the treatment procedure followed in the city was “haphazard” and a standard process was definitely needed to bring “more uniformity” in the treatment of paediatric cancer.
Similar workshops will be held throughout the country under the guidance of the Academy and the National Cancer Institute. “Almost all cases of paediatric cancer are curable, provided correct diagnosis is made at an early stage. We will, therefore, lay stress on basic diagnosis at the workshop,” says director A. Mukherjee of Subodh Mitra Cancer Hospital, also coordinator of the programme.
Often, prolonged fever with bleeding gums is confused with a viral fever or infection which, if wrongly treated, can result in cancer.
“There have been cases when patients had not responded to antibiotics, yet were asked to continue the medication, without a thought for the complications. The April training will revolve round the importance of early diagnosis and correct treatment,” Mukherjee added.