University graduate goes beyond the call of duty to find the best treatment for young cancer patients
An encounter with a 17-month-old cancer patient named Rory prompted University of Leicester graduate Dr Rishi Kotecha to embark on a world-wide quest to find the best way to treat the rare childhood cancer meningioma. Meningioma is a tumour that grows from the membrane lining the brain, and although it is relatively common in adults, cases in children are almost unheard of. Dr Kotecha had never seen a tumour like it before, and worried that such a young patient needed a different treatment plan to that of an adult.
Adults with cancerous tumours are usually treated with surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy - sometimes in combination - but Dr Kotecha wanted to be sure that this was the best approach for the toddler. He scoured every reported case of childhood meningioma worldwide for the past twenty years, and contacted many of the doctors involved to ask about successful treatments. The findings of his research confirmed his instincts: radiotherapy was not the best treatment for childhood meningioma. Instead, Rory was treated with steroids to reduce his golf ball sized tumour, which was then surgically removed during a six-hour operation.
The findings of Dr Kotecha's investigation were published in December 2011 in The Lancet Oncology, and local newspapers in Perth reported on the findings and on young Rory's remarkable recovery.
Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Princess Margaret Hospital, the University of WA and 17 overseas centres all participated in Dr Kotecha's research. Dr Kotecha graduated from Leicester Medical School in 2001.
- Meningiomas in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis of individual patient data in The Lancet Oncology, December 2011
- News article in The West Australian about Dr Kotecha's work.