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Father seeks help for daughter with cancer

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd March 2008 03:00 AM

THREE- year-old Mourine Namugwe, a resident of Nyange village, Ssembabule district, is troubled by a condition that left her right cheek swollen and later developed a hole.

THREE- year-old Mourine Namugwe, a resident of Nyange village, Ssembabule district, is troubled by a condition that left her right cheek swollen and later developed a hole.

By Halima Shaban

THREE- year-old Mourine Namugwe, a resident of Nyange village, Ssembabule district, is troubled by a condition that left her right cheek swollen and later developed a hole.

Robert Monday, Namugwe’s father, says the swelling started developing January 2007. He sought treatment at Kitovu Hospital and was referred to Mulago Hospital.

Dr Yuventine Ekoku, a principle surgeon at Mulago, says Namugwe suffers from Burkitt’s lymphoma, a form of cancer common in children especially below the age of five.

“Burkitt’s lymphoma is one type of a group of malignant diseases called the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas. The type of malignant cell present is called a B-cell. Burkitt’s is often referred to as a B-cell lymphoma,” Ekoku says.

He adds that Burkitt’s lymphoma may first be noticed as a swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, groin, below the jaw, or under the arm. These swellings are often painless, but can grow rapidly.

“A person can get critically ill within one to one-and-a-half months,” Ekoku says.
Dr. Jackson Orem, the director of the Uganda Cancer Institute at Mulago, says Burkitt’s Lymphoma represents the most common tumour in children aged 0-14 years in tropical Africa, 97% of the tumours being associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

“EBV infects normal B-Lymphocytes to change into B-cancerous cells. This usually occurs when the patient has reduced immunity due to immunological defects, genetic predisposition, chronic malaria, HIV and environmental factors,” Dr. Orem says.

He says the classical sign is gross swelling of the jawbone, rapidly spreading to other parts of the body and eventually invades the central nervous system.

It affects the lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver, lungs and the nervous system, causing weakness and paralysis.

The common symptoms are unexplained high temperatures, sore throat, night sweats, weight loss, abdominal pain, bone and joint pains, constipation, tiredness and decreased appetite.

Some children may have chest discomfort, with complaints of cough, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing.
Ekoku says intensive treatment may begin with combinations of high-doses of chemotherapy.

This destroys cancer cells in the body. Radiotherapy is also done for a period of six to nine months. According to the National Cancer Institute, treatment of cancer with drugs is more effective than radiation therapy for advanced stages in spite of its side effects.

Monday says Namugwe is on drugs, but they are expensive. He is seeking assistance for his daughter before her condition worsens. Monday can be contacted on 0757894279.

Father seeks help for daughter with cancer

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