KUWAIT: As the entire world stands in solidarity for International Childhood Cancer Day today, a Kuwaiti team of doctors specializing in retinoblastoma diagnosis and treatment stands out as part of efforts in alleviating pains of affected children and restoring hope in their hearts. Retinoblastoma, in itself a rare type of cancer, is the most common type of cancer affecting children’s retina, as one out of 17,000 children could be affected by this type of cancer. The global COVID-19 pandemic, while a debilitating crisis, contributed to the success of the team’s mission as it was formed emergently during airport closures since patients could not travel to receive care abroad.
Dr Abdullah Al-Baghli, Chief of Al-Bahar Eye Center and a consultant ophthalmologist, commented that the formation of such a medical team is considered an unprecedented, worthy of note, an achievement for the ministry of health. He further commended the magnanimous efforts of the specialized team members as they have successfully managed to reduce the number of patients traveling abroad to receive medical care.
Team leader Dr Adnan Al-Wayel said that a team of specialists was formed during critical times, consisting of doctors, radiologists, and genealogists to diagnose and treat new cases as well as monitor patients who have already received treatment abroad prior to the pandemic. Dr Wayel further illustrated that the team is comprised of specialists from Al-Bahar center as well as other centers, adding that diagnosis is done within 48 hours maximum and according to protocol adhering highest medical standards.
Dr Alaa Al-Ali, assigned with monitoring work of the team, said meanwhile that retinoblastoma is considered one of the most lethal cancers infecting children’s retinas as the tumor grows quite rapidly, indicating that early diagnosis and treatment could save a child’s life. Dr Ali added that the team diagnosed and treated 10 children aged between three months to two years, as well as continued treatment process with children who received care abroad, all of whom are in advanced stages of treatment.
Dr Ali stressed the importance of parents’ awareness and attention to early signs of this disease i.e., whitening of eye pupils, eyes that do not appear to look in the same directions, less common symptoms include eye reddening and bulging of eyes. As for treatment methods, Dr Ali named several ways including laser treatment, chemotherapy, cauterization, indicating that radiology and examination are done under full anesthesia, adding that eye excision might be necessary for advanced cases, so cancerous cells don’t spread to the child’s brain.
Head of C unit in radiology and tumors department within Kuwait Cancer Control Center, Dr Ahmad Bushehri stated that much progress has been made in radiotherapy and most cases that require it are advanced cases irresponsive to surgery or chemotherapy. He illustrated that recently; a little girl was treated via radiotherapy and is now in stable condition. Pediatric Neuro-radiologist at Ibn Sina hospital, Dr Fatima Dashti, commented that children are diagnosed via MRI, not CT scans, so children are not unnecessarily exposed to radiation. Dr Dashti added that after treatment, the radiology department conducts periodic examinations every six months to monitor the child’s responsiveness to the treatment. – KUNA