20 May 2010
By Radha Venkatesan
It is a crippling bone disease that afflicts five among one lakh children. And frisky school boy Hariharan of Udumalpet in Tirupur district suddenly became a victim of the rare bone tumour–Ewing’s sarcoma. With a lemon–sized tumour on the upper part of his left leg, he could barely limp around. His left leg must be amputated, said doctors.
The eighth class boy’s future was in doubt. And his father, a poor labourer, just could not afford to take him to specialists in Chennai to save his legs.“Most doctors in rural Tamil Nadu recommend chopping of limbs for patients suffering from Ewing’s sarcoma. But the limb can be salvaged through surgery,”says Dr Suresh Venkatachalam, Professor of Oncology at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital. Now, after 86 days of chemotherapy, Hariharan scampers around, pedals the bicycle and literally, jumps in joy. Eight months ago, when his desperate parents brought him to the CMCH for treatment, Hariharan’s scan report showed a malignant tumour in the left head of the fibula or the calf bone, near the knee joint and abutting the tibia or the shin bone. However, after 84 days of chemotherapy, the tumour disappeared and the entire fibula, a dispensable part, besides the cortex of the tibia, were removed.
“Even if the tibia is affected, there is no need to amputate the leg. The limb can be salvaged through a metal implant of tibia,”says Dr Suresh Venkatachalam. Normally, Ewing’s sarcoma affects children’s bone or soft tissues between 10 and 15 years of age. If left untreated, it could kill the child. The cause of the disease is largely unknown, though it is considered partially genetic.
What is Ewing’s Sarcoma?
- Ewing’s sarcoma is a malignant round–cell tumour. It is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue
- Ewing’s sarcoma affects children’s bone or soft tissues between 10 and 15 years of age
- Hariharan, the boy, who underwent chemotherapy, suffered enormous trauma, loss of hair and fever while going through the treatment