Cancers in children can be hard to recognise as early symptoms can be overlooked or attributed to much common illnesses or injuries, Seha has warned. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A 12-year-old boy has successfully beat a brain tumour that was first diagnosed a year ago, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) has said.

The public healthcare provider has urged parents to seek medical attention if their children develop unusual and persistent symptoms, which could be early warning signs of cancer.

The patient, Sultan, had been seemingly healthy until he began to experience vomiting episodes. His mother had then taken him to various pediatricians for treatment, but they were unable to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Tumour diagnosis

Sultan then underwent an investigative colonoscopy, but the procedure provided inconclusive results. Then, he began complaining of a headache and suffering convulsions, and was rushed to the hospital when he lost consciousness. A CT scan at this point confirmed a brain tumour. To his parents’ shock, the boy was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a primary central nervous system (CNS) tumour.

Dr. Naser Al Zein-1645420405128
Dr Naser Al Zein Image Credit: Supplied

Surgery and therapy

Sultan was immediately referred to Tawam Hospital, where he underwent an operation to remove the tumour after doctors confirmed the diagnosis. He also underwent radiotherapy for a few weeks following the procedure.

Upon the request of his family, Sultan continued treatment at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in the capital, another Seha facility. There, he completed chemotherapy in September 2021, with a check-up plan scheduled with an MRI every 3 months.

Continued remission

His latest MRI has now showed no evidence of disease recurrence, and no metastasis, meaning that the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

“Through the collective commitment of our facilities, and integrated group practice model, we were able to ensure Sultan received the right care at the right time. Our objective is to promote the importance of early diagnosis in children and adolescents. Sultan’s cancer was diagnosed and treated in a short span of time. Through early detection, we are thankful to have caught the tumor at the stage it was in and aggressively treat it,” said Dr Mahmoud Ali Benour, surgeon at Tawam Hospital.

“We were absolutely devastated when we first heard the news. Everything happened so fast, with Sultan undergoing surgery only days after we learnt that the tumour existed. We were still in shock. I was overwhelmed with the support and care that my son and family received at SKMC and Tawam Hospital. I want to thank all of the medical and surgical teams for saving my child’s life and for their dedication, persistence and optimism throughout this journey,” Sultan’s mother said.

Timely diagnosis

“The most common types of childhood cancers include leukaemias, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumors. Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers in regards to their potential to be cured. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 400,000 children and adolescents up to 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer every year. A key player in successfully battling the disease is its timely diagnosis,” said Dr Naser Al Zein, division chief of Pediatric Oncology and Haematology at SKMC.

Masking symptoms

Cancers in children can be hard to recognise as early symptoms can be overlooked or attributed to much common illnesses or injuries, the Seha statement said. Children often get sick or acquire bumps or bruises that might mask the early signs of cancer. It is therefore important to have children checked by a doctor if they have unusual signs or symptoms that persist.

Look for the following symptoms:

Unusual lump or swelling

Unexplained paleness and loss of energy

Easy bruising or bleeding

Ongoing pain in one area of the body


Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away

Frequent headaches, often with vomiting

Sudden eye or vision changes

Sudden unexplained weight loss