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AGOGO PRESBY HOSPITAL

DEPARTMENT OF PAEDIATRICS AND CHILD HEALTH

CHILDHOOD CANCER UNIT

  • The Department undertakes treatment of children with various cancers. Examples of such children are seen below.
  • The treatment is supervised by the Paediatrician (Dr. Lawrence OSEI-TUTU) who is a Childhood Blood and Cancer Specialist with expertise in treating children with cancers, sickle cell disease and other blood disorders
  • Childhood cancer treatment takes a minimum of 8 months in most cases to 3 years in cases of cancers of the blood
  • There are several challenges many of which are due to the fact that parents of children diagnosed with cancer have to make out-of-pocket payments for the treatments of their children
  • Financial support is required for parents to support the cost of
    • purchasing supportive care medicines for treating pain, vomiting, and infections;
    • purchasing some anti-cancer medicines that are not readily available
    • transportation to and from the treatment center;
  • Children are admitted for long periods in the hospital. This means parents abandon their jobs for the period of admission leading to more economic loss and further financial distress
  • We are grateful for the support of the World Child Cancer Charity and the Paediatric Cancer Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) for their support
  • Currently, there are 3 children between the ages of 4 and 8 years and 2 adolescents aged 11 and 15 years undergoing cancer treatment at the childhood cancer unit of the hospital

Figure 1: A 5-year-old boy, YJ with Burkitt Lymphoma of the left Jaw. Burkitt Lymphoma is the commonest cancer of childhood that we see, and it is very sensitive to chemotherapy. Sadly, many parents are unable to afford the treatment

 

Figure 2: A 4-year-old with a cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, of his right eye undergoing chemotherapy, then surgery and more chemotherapy thereafter. It takes about a year to finish all these treatments. A common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss called alopecia. His auntie brought him all the way from Tamale to seek care at our Eye clinic. We hope for the best

 

Figure 3: 15 years old boy with cancer of lymph nodes (Hodgkin Lymphoma). Halfway through his treatment and the swellings have resolved. He must finish all his chemotherapy if he is to be completely cured. At this stage, many parents abandon treatment because the kids look well in addition to running out of funds. Without completing all the treatment, the cancer will come back.

 

Figure 4: PN is a 7 years old boy whose mother travelled 5 hours to reach us for care. His right jaw and abdomen were progressively swelling up over a matter of weeks and he had lost so much weight and become very ill over the period. We confirmed Burkitt Lymphoma of his jaw and his abdomen and commenced chemotherapy. He is half-way through his treatment now. The mum is motivated to finish the treatment, but the hospital bills are piling up and she is in a lot of debt now. The financial toxicity is threatening to derail our efforts at cure

 

Figure 5: 12 years old BN whose cancer of the right eye muscles have rendered that eye non-functional. Currently in her 2nd month on admission with us, we are working hard to shrink the tumour with chemotherapy so that our eye surgeon can safely remove the rest of the chunk; then we continue with more chemotherapy. This process should take about 12 calendar months. Work in progress