There is one thing in the world that all of us can agree shouldn’t exist, and that’s the Child Oncology Ward in any hospital, anywhere. Cancer is a disease, that can strike anyone at any time. Unfortunately, children who suffer from cancer are often diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Childhood cancer is different than cancer occurring among adults. This is the worst nightmare for any parent that their child is suffering from cancer.
Childhood and adolescent cancer, although rare, is increasing day by day, to such an extent that it is threatening to be one of the highest causes of disease-related mortality in children globally. According, to the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, globally there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. India accounts for 20% of childhood cancer cases around the world. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
A report published by WHO and the World Bank in December 2017, revealed that approximately half of the world’s population, including children, do not have access to essential health services and that 800 million people spend minimum 10 percent of their household income on healthcare.
Childhood cancer is a non- communicable disease. It does not spread due to coming in contact with children who have cancer neither does it occurs due to genes. Childhood cancer is different from that in adults in many ways as only 3% of all cancers occur in children. Cancer in children is fast growing but also sensitive to chemotherapy treatment.
Hereunder are some warning signs of childhood cancer for which you need to seek medical help:
- Eye: In case of white spot in the eye, new squint, blindness or bulging eyeball
- Lump: If you observe a lump in any of the following areas- abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, gland
- In case of unexplained fever, loss of weight and appetite, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
- Aching of bones, joints, backs and easy fractures
- In case of neurological signs such as a change in behaviour, balance, gait and milestones, headache and an enlarged
Childhood cancers constitute about 3-4% of all cancers. The causes of childhood cancers are yet to be known. In India, the incidence of cancer is increasing by 1.1. % every year. Approximately 40 to 50,000 new childhood cancer cases are detected every year. Unfortunately, 70% of children with cancer still die of this deadly disease because of lack of awareness, late detection and diagnosis, inadequate paediatric cancer treatment facilities, expensive treatment and lack of supportive care.
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Childhood cancer does not mean the end of life. If diagnosed and treated at the right time, a lot of children do survive and work like normal individuals. This year on International Childhood Cancer Day, February 15th, all the members of the Childhood Cancer International and the SIOP made childhood cancer a national and global child health priority to ensure there are adequate resources to meet the basic rights of children with cancer.
The basic rights for all the children who have cancer include:
The right to early and proper diagnosis, the right to access essential life-saving medicines, the right to appropriate and quality medical treatments, the right to have access to sufficient palliative care, the right to follow up care, services and sustainable livelihood.
The golden ribbon is the international symbol that represents childhood cancer. The reason is just like gold our children are precious.