Newsletter No. 493

08 # 4 9 3 | 0 4 . 0 3 . 2 0 1 7 Photo by ISO Staff You have been actively striving to better the welfare of paediatric cancer patients. Why? Care and support are of vital importance to childhood cancer patients and survivors. Successful treatment of paediatric cancer is only the start of a patient’s road to restoring normalcy in life; childhood cancer survivors are still prone to health issues including drug side effects, complications, and even cancer recurrence. In addition, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant etc., could lead to a decline in memory, learning skills and even fertility. Therefore despite their recovery, childhood cancer survivors still face enormous difficulties, ranging from academic, career, social and daily life, etc. My urge to offer assistance and support drive me to push forward the establishment of various childhood cancer support groups. In what ways do these support groups assist childhood cancer patients? Childhood cancer support groups offer a wide range of resources and support to patients. Take Little Life Warrior Society as an example. The Society holds various activities that connect paediatric cancer patients and parents, providing a social platform where they can support and share experiences with each other. The Society also recruits retired teachers to provide free tutoring lessons to patients. As childhood cancer survivors are prone to infection and require at least one year to recover, the Ronald McDonald House Charities provides them with a ‘home’ that is located near their hospitals. This ‘home away from home’ provides each patient a private bedroom to convalesce in a clean and pleasant environment. Families can also stay close to the patients, which is important to the sick children’s physical and psychological well-being. What is the state of paediatric cancer in Hong Kong and what are the preventative measures that we could take? Acute leukaemia, brain tumour, lymphoma, neuroblastoma and Wilms’ tumour are common types of cancer in children. Around 180 children are found to have developed cancer each year. While the number of paediatric cancer patients in Hong Kong remains steady throughout the years, the chance of cure has jumped from 20% to 30% in 1960 to around 80% nowadays. Apart from cases of inherited cancer, the causes of most pediatric cancers are still unknown. Therefore, it is vital for people with a strong family history of cancer to pay close attention to any signs of abnormality. The Prince of Wales Hospital has a specialized clinic, which provides regular body checks and follow-up for children with inherited cancer. For others, the most effective preventative measures would be to strengthen one’s immune system by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. How is your life after retirement? I have been busy participating in charities since I retired in 2003. I continued teaching as it has always been my aspiration to pass on knowledge and experience to future generations. I still follow up my old cases. Since 1991, the Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital has carried out over 400 bone marrow transplants and I have developed profound friendships with many childhood cancer patients. At my 80th birthday celebration event organized by the Faculty of Medicine, a lot of my patients arrived with their families. It was a delight to see my patients starting a new life despite all the hurdles along the way. What is your advice to medical students interested in paediatrics? I would greet them with warm welcome. I would be very glad if my teaching has aroused students’ interest in paediatrics. A paediatrician has to be both caring and detail-minded. Paediatric treatments, especially for premature babies, are extremely complex. But if you put your heart and soul into it, this role would bring you unparalleled delight and satisfaction. 你一直积极为儿童癌症病人争取更好的待遇及福利,可否与我们分享你的 理念? 我认为无论是患病还是康复中的癌症病童,都十分需要关顾与援助,因为对于病 童及家人来说,治病只是第一步,康复者投入正常生活的路途仍然崎岖漫长。虽 然大部分癌症病童在完成治疗后,都能如正常人般生活,长大后更可贡献社会, 但药物副作用、并发症、甚至癌症复发等情况亦时有发生,而癌症疗程如化学治 疗、放射治疗、骨髓或血干细胞移植等,亦有机会令少部分病童产生长远后遗症, 如他们的记忆、学习、甚至生育能力方面或受一定损害,故康复后仍要面对学业、 工作、社交以及生活等各方面问题。为病童及家人于治疗及康复期间提供支持及 帮助,就是我成立儿童癌症团体的背后理念。 儿童癌症团体为病童提供什么协助? 儿童癌症团体为病童提供的资源和协助是涵盖各方面的,比如「生命小战士会」 透过举办不同活动,让病童及家属互相认识,建立支援网络。组织亦邀请到不少 经验丰富的退休老师,义务为病童补习功课。另外,由于康复者手术后身体虚弱, 易受感染,需要至少一年时间恢复,香港「麦当劳叔叔之家」就为病童家庭在医 院附近提供设备齐全的「临时家园」,每个病童都有独立房间,地方干净舒适,除 可让病童休养外,亦方便家人照料,对促进病患者的身心康复非常重要。 香港儿童癌症概况如何?有何预防方法? 香港儿童癌症常见的有白血病、脑瘤、神经母细胞瘤和肾母细胞瘤,病患者数目一 直维持在每年约一百八十个,但病愈率已由1960年时的百分之二十至三十,大幅 提升至现时约百分之八十。儿童癌症除了部分源自家族遗传等先天因素外,很多 的病因都未有明确外来因素。所以若家族中有癌症病史,就要多加留意,而威尔斯 亲王医院亦设立了「家族性肿瘤筛查」门诊,跟进一些或有家族遗传的儿童癌症 病童,替他们作定期检查。除此以外,我们能做的就是维持健康的生活习惯,如多 吃菜蔬,多运动等,增强免疫能力,以减低患病风险。 可否谈谈你的退休生活? 我于2003年退休,现时大部分时间都投放在慈善活动,以及兼任大学的教学工作 上。能够将我多年来累积的学问及经验薪火相传予下一代,是极具意义的事。另 外,我仍坚持继续跟进旧症病人。自1991年起,威尔斯亲王医院的儿童骨髓移植 中心已进行超过四百个儿童骨髓移植手术,我于其中见证不少病人的成长,与他 们建立了深厚的感情。去年医学院为我举办的八十大寿庆典中,有不少康复者及 家人出席,看到他们成功跨过重重障碍,重过新生,实在令我感到很欣慰。 对有志修读儿科的医科生有何建议? 我当然非常欢迎医科生加入儿科,我常说若我的教学能鼓励到那怕只是一位医科 生决定修读儿科,我已十分满足。儿科医生不但要有爱心,亦要极度细心。须知儿 科病症的治疗极为复杂,特别是早生婴儿的情况更甚。但若能投入其中,这个岗 位带来的快乐及满足感是无可替代的。 阮文宾教授创立或参与之儿童癌症团体包括: Some childhood cancer support groups that Prof. Yuen Man-pan founded or participates in: 儿童癌病基金 Children’s Cancer Foundation 生命小战士会 Little Life Warrior Society 麦当劳叔叔之家 Ronald McDonald House Charities 爱心童乐营 Camp Quality Hong Kong 阮文宾教授 Prof. Yuen Man-pan • 医学院儿科学系荣休教授 Emeritus Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine 口 谈 实 录 / V iva V oce