The paediatric neurosurgery unit is the only one of its kind in the country; the clinicians have many years of experience with surgery for all forms of childhood brain tumours and are actively involved in several relevant international organizations, namely the International Society for Paediatric Neurosurgery and the International Society for Intraoperative Neurophysiology. The team has collective experience over several decades as the frontline treatment for paediatric brain tumours as a resource for the Western Cape region and increasingly for the rest of the country and continent. Prof Anthony Figaji is the Head of the Paediatric Neurosurgery Unit at the University of Cape Town and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. The other paediatric neurosurgeons at the hospital are Dr Llewellyn Padayachy, Dr Nico Enslin, and Prof Graham Fieggen, Head of the Division of Neurosurgery.
The Radiotherapy department at GSH has a dedicated sub-specialist dealing with paediatric tumours, as well as a Radiation Technology Technician team experienced in the planning and treatment techniques required for children. As a result, many state and private paediatric patients country-wide are referred for radiotherapy. The department also hosts the monthly multi-disciplinary neuro-paediatric-endocrine follow-up clinic which deals with all aspects of follow-up in our brain tumour patients. A/Prof Jeanette Parkes is the Head of Paediatric Radiotherapy.
Established in 1967 the paediatric haematology-oncology service at RCCH is one of South Africa’s leading referral centres for blood diseases and cancer. The unit manages about 130 new cases of childhood malignancy per year (25-30 of them brain tumours) and attracts over 1800 admissions and nearly 6000 outpatient visits. The unit sits at the centre of a large network of shared carers throughout the Western and Eastern Cape who co-manage patients, administer chemotherapy or assist with supportive care or long term follow up. Protocols have been produced to guide shared care and long term follow up and the initiative is underpinned by a weekly telemedicine meeting hosting doctors from as far afield as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Blantyre, Maputo, Kampala, Accra, Kumasi and Ibadan. The oncology service has become more involved in the multidisciplinary neuro-oncology team since the turn of the century, as the role of chemotherapy has become more established, particularly in younger children.
A/Prof Alan Davidson is the Head of Paediatric Oncology at the hospital, and the other members of the team include Dr Marc Hendricks and Dr Ann Van Eyssen.
Dr Komala Pillay is a paediatric pathologist with considerable experience working with paediatric brain tumours. She works at Red Cross Children’s Hospital where she leads a dedicated paediatric pathology service. Smear and frozen section diagnoses are provided intraoperatively and can be performed inside the operating environment where necessary. Paraffin section is then done, for which there is an array of histochemical tests to identify the specific tumour. Where necessary the team then performs immunohistochemical tests often unavailable in other sectors to classify tumours according to new systems. Occasionally the service uses international consults that have revealed a high degree of agreement with the final diagnosis made at RCCH.