Our childrens cancer treatment service was pioneered at Banso Baptist Hospital by Dr Peter McCormick and Prof Peter Hesseling.
In terms of infrastructure our programme is best developed at this hospital with a dedicated childrens cancer ward, a drug-mixing room and a childrens playroom.
On a round of the childrens cancer (Burkitt) ward at Banso on November 23rd I found just 3 in-patients. One of these, a boy aged 7 years had a severe inflammation of his mouth and gullet (mucositis) caused by intravenous methotrexate given in the treatment of advanced Burkitt’s lymphoma. He had almost certainly vomited (in the night) the folinic acid tablets given to prevent this toxic effect. The extreme soreness of mouth and gullet in this condition merits the use of morphine. We strive to avoid such toxic effects of our chemotherapy drugs.
In 2014 I attended a childrens cancer (SIOP) conference in Tanzania. A Nigerian doctor presented (very honestly) a series of 80 patients treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma with a rate of toxic effects nearing 10% of patients treated. We have treated approximately 1000 children with Burkitt’s lymphoma with far fewer drug-related toxic effects. We analyse every case in retrospect so as to improve our performance. It is a reminder that all our chemotherapy drugs are dangerous: if we give too high a dose we may kill the child. Our doctors and nurses adhere to a strict protocol designed to avoid such toxic effects. The boy mentioned above made a full recovery in time for his 5th bolus of chemotherapy – which did not include methotrexate!
Paul Wharin Jan. 2016