When Dombivli resident Sagar Patil, 17, found it difficult to eat, he was unaware that he was suffering from oesophageal cancer (cancer of the food pipe).
Initially Patil, who left his school to sell bhelpuris to support his mother, ignored the pain. However, two months ago, when he could not even drink water, his family took him to the local doctor.
After visiting more than three hospitals, doctors realised that the lower part of his food pipe was cancerous. “Patil lost about ten kilos in three months,” said his uncle, Vishwanath Patil.
According to doctors at GT hospital, Patil’s case is rare as usually oesophageal cancer is not common in people below 18 years of age. “About 109 such cases have been reported around the world till 2010. Of these, only 29 cases were reported in children below 18 years of age,” said Dr J Sakpal who operated on Patil last week.
Patil approached various private hospitals, which gave him an estimate of Rs5 lakh for his surgery.
“As we could not afford the surgery, we decided to wait, but his condition was deteriorating day by day,” said Vishwanath, adding that they finally performed the surgery free of cost at GT hospital.
Doctors said there are no specific risk factors owing to which a person would develop oesophageal cancer. However, advanced age, consumption of alcohol and tobacco and poor diet could increase chances of it developing.
“He was malnourished, which only added to his pain. He has now finally started eating food,” said Dr Vivek Tilwani, honorary associate professor, GT Hospital, who also performed on Patil.
Patil is likely to get discharged from hospital on Saturday. “Once I am fine, I want to complete my education,” he said.
Doctors are approaching non- profit organisations to fund his further treatment and education.