• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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University of PH Teaching Hospital saves two Nasopharyngeal Cancer patients

UNIPORT teaching hospital mobilises for take-off of kidney transplant centre

The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has presented two successfully treated nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) patients, a breakthrough that may stand out the institution in the treatment of cancer.

One of the patients is a woman while the other is a 12-year-old boy. The woman has crossed the five-year post-treatment threshold but some other experts said observation time may need to get to 10 years.

The success was the highlight of the August Hospital Ground Round of the UPTH where a department comes to brief the hospital community and some stakeholders on an important medical situation.

The August round was hosted by the Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgery Department and the topic was Nasopharyngeal Carsinoma.

Explaining the details, the chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), the professor, Lucky Onotai, who spoke on behakf of the professor, Henry Ugboma, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), said nasopharyngeal cancer is a cancer that affects the back of the nose, a space behind the nose which people do not see. “This tumor grows and occupies it and from there spreads to the eyes, through, head, and to all parts of the body. It is hidden.

“It normally presents like a swelling in the neck or poor eye-sights or bleeding from the nose or the nose is blocked, or the patient has other issues that have to do with balance or weight loss.

“We feel we have cases we have managed successfully and it will be nice to let the public know that these cases can be managed especially when the patient reports early.’

He warned people who see catarrh, or poor eyesight or bleeding from the nose, or any of such, not to see it as ordinary. “Take it serious. These are pointers to nasopharyngeal cancer.’

He said the UPTH has the required experts to save lives if the cases were reported a bit earlier, and that they have people who can treat it using chemotherapy or radiotherapy. “Unfortunately, our radiotherapy is still work in progress; the building is there but the machines and facilities are still work in progress.”

Onotai said the UPTH for now sends patients that require radiotherapy to some private centres in Uyo, Calabar and Lagos and to some government hospitals like in Abuja National Hospital and LUTH, sometimes in UCH.

Read also: UPTH: How medical directors throw in salaries to save emergencies

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On the causes, he mentioned ethological factors to include undue exposure to chemicals especially in the Niger Delta environment with a lot of petrochemicals, gas flaring, and petroleum products being refined and pumped into the atmosphere by unauthorized persons and in unapproved methods.

Un-gutted but salted and smoked fish was heavily implicated because the rubbish in the intestines contain chemicals called nitrocymins. Some of the wood used in smoking the fish also has chemicals that cause the cancer.

The CMAC called for massive enlightenment schemes people can know what to avoid, what to look out for and how to come early to hospitals. He also said campaigns should be mounted at localities where illegal refining is going on so they can understand their degree of exposure. “Those that take snuff must take precaution. The Ogoni axis with many oil spills should be cleaned and well treated. Those that plant crops in those places should be told that they are at risk.

“Government has a big role in terms of legislation to ban the activities that generate these chemicals and make people do things the right way. They also need to support the eradication process.’

In his introductory remarks, the Ground Rounds Coordinator, Onyeanunam Ngozi Ekeke, a professor of Surgery, Consultant Urologist as well as the Team Lead, UPTH Cancer Management, Nasopharyngeal cancer is a masquerader. “It can present many symptoms from many different parts thus confusing the doctors. It can also deceive the patient to think it’s a minor ailment in the manifesting part of the head.”

The head of department (HOD), Austin Nwogbo, said the objective of seminar is to show the role of information in diagnosis so those handling a patient can clearly understand what he/she sees. “You don’t need machines to diagnose it, just few symptoms. It is behind the nose.”

He appealed for the radiotherapy machine to be brought to the UPTH.

In his overview, a medical doctor, O. Josephat, said diagnosis is difficult because of many symptoms. Saying it is a tumor, he said Nigeria has 86,000 new cases per year. “This accounts for 85 per cent of all ENT cases and is common in Jos, Sokoto, and other places up north but is now in Port Harcourt. It’s mostly in persons aged 12 to 18 and 50 to 70 years.”

Giving insight into the nursing care, Ike Orijiako said Radiotherapy is one of the treatments but the biggest machine needed for it is not in Rivers State.

Supporting the stand, Olusegun Biyi-Olutunde, a consultant radiologist, said the machine is for early detection and detailed examination. He said they use drugs to keep the patients going before radiotherapy is done outside the state.