Early detection, treatment can cure pediatric eye cancer

Four-year-old Sabbir Hossain, son of Awlad Hossain, a farmer from Golabari village in Khagrachhari, woke up one day to find he couldn’t see anything.

His father observed that his son’s eyes had suddenly started to bulge. As no treatment was available at the local hospital, he did not receive the required medical help and his condition worsened.

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After four months, Sabbir’s mother, Parvin Akhter, took him to the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital in Dhaka, where his condition was diagnosed.

He had eye cancer.

Currently, one of his eyes is being treated, but he has completely lost sight in the other eye.

Parvin said: “When my son’s eyes swelled up, there were visible black dots. Later, when I brought him to Dhaka, I learned that if my child had been brought here sooner, his two eyes could have been saved. “

Lack of parental awareness is one of the main reasons why eye cancer treatment in children is delayed or not treated, leading to blindness or death.

Parvin was speaking recently at a seminar in Dhaka on eye cancer in children. Sabbir and her father were also present at the event.

Lack of parental awareness is one of the main reasons why eye cancer treatment in children is delayed or not treated, leading to blindness or death.

The speakers said so during the discussion jointly organized by the Ocular Oncology Services, National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital (NIO&H) and Ophthalmological Society of Bangladesh (OSB).

They said that until eight years ago the only cancer treatment available was to completely remove the affected eyeball. Since 2014, however, this is no longer part of the treatment.

NIO&H treated nearly 600 children. Among them, 500 were cured and 120 received eye transplants.

Every week, about 50 new children are admitted to the hospital. Over the past eight years, 40 children have died of cancer in this hospital. Doctors have said that eye cancer is more common in children under the age of two.

Addressing the event, Professor Ava Hossain of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology said: “Hospitals in the capital are admitting patients from across the country. More children with eye cancer could be cured if more awareness programs were carried out.

According to Professor Shawkat Ara Shakoor Milly, surgeon at NIO&H, retinoblastoma is one of the most dangerous eye diseases affecting children.

“This cancer can be deadly if not treated in time. Chemotherapy or lasers are usually used for treatment. Since 2019, the government has provided patients with free medical care,” she said.

“Parents should take children to the doctor if they have symptoms such as puffy eyes, redness or blackheads. People would be more aware if the government implemented various awareness initiatives in this regard,” he said. she added.

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