7 May 2019 : The peer pressure, often as an effect of expectations, many times takes away the childhood out
of children these days and the parents as well as the teachers are responsible for it too. Parents
usually get so carried away by the societal ways that they tend to overlook their child as an
individual. A 10-year-old boy, who used to be irregular in school, suffered at the hands of a
Rahul (name changed), was put in a boarding school 7-8 months back and was mostly seen as a
child not listening to anyone. His teachers also had a lot of complaints against him. Taking the
advice of the teachers and neighbors, Rahul’s parents admitted him to a boarding school
hoping to get him back on track. But his irregularities worsened at the boarding school and he
was found to be more disoriented with little ability to concentrate. He regularly complained of
severe headaches and vomit but the teachers took it as escapism from classes to go back home.
One fine day, his aunt visited him at the boarding school and saw him down with fever. Rahul
was taken to a nearby hospital and diagnosed with Typhoid fever.
For further investigation, Rahul’s aunt brought him to Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield. Rahul
was presented with recurrent episodes of vomiting for a few months which were put down to
him avoiding school + boarding school. He also had an abnormal gait which was put down to
him being naughty and on examination had a squint. All of these symptoms prompted an
urgent MRI scan 'which revealed that he had been struggling with a brain tumor.
"It was not a sudden problem. The child had been showing symptoms but no one noticed. He
used to sway while walking but the people around assumed he is trying to imitate from movies
and he was rather punished for it. Due to this delay of 7-8 months, the tumor had grown near
the brain stem," informed Dr. Suruchi, Consultant–Pediatrics, Columbia Asia Hospital,
Dr. Tejus M N Rao, Consultant – Neurosurgery and Endovascular Neuro Intervention,
Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield said, “For treatment, Rahul’s skull was opened to perform
craniotomy, which is the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain,
and through excision, the tumor was completely removed. Post the surgery, Rahul was in
ventilator for a day and then in ICU for 2 days. As his condition improved, he was shifted to
ward on third day. Having stayed in the hospital for 5 days, Rahul was successfully treated with
surgery and is now on a regular follow up.”
NEED FOR AWARENESS
Dr. Tejus M N Rao also added that it is highly important to educate parents as well as teachers
about the possibilities of the tumor and the signs that they must look out for. As seen in the
above mentioned case, neither the teachers, nor the parents could identify any of the
symptoms. Along with awareness, timely response to the symptoms and receiving the
treatment on time is of utmost importance. Certain brain tumors are well treatable if diagnosed
on time. In Rahul’s case, the delay of over six months lead to the enhancement of the tumor in the child. Had he received early medical aid at the initial stage, things would have been much better.
Depending on the brain tumor type, size, location and growth rate, the symptoms of a brain
tumor are likely to vary significantly in children. Some of these signs can often be mistaken or
ignored owing to their similarity with the symptoms of certain other health conditions. While
brain tumors can occur at any age, the ones that occur in infants or children are quite different
from adult brain tumors; in terms of response to treatment as well as the type of cells. Brain
tumors, however, can occur at any age but still generally remain very rare among children.
It becomes fundamental for people especially parents and teachers to be aware and informed
about the possible symptoms of the problem, since they are at the closest and in most contact
with children. However, general or casual the symptoms might appear on the outside, close
monitoring is critical as even slightest ignorance and delay can lead to fatality in cases of tumor.
The need to provide medical aid at the earliest cannot be stressed enough, there should be no
delay in reaching out for proper diagnosis to treat the actual problem from its roots.