Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

In the month of September Cancercare once raises awareness for childhood cancer. Early detection is crucial and if cancer is detected early, the chances of surviving childhood cancer can be as high as 77%

“Cancer is a significant cause of death in children and adolescents, in spite of its relatively rare occurrence.”
– Christopher Wild, IARC director

According to CHOC’s website the most recent South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG) registry statistics, for 2009 to 2013, shows that the five most common childhood cancers in South Africa are leukaemia, followed by lymphoma (tumours that begin in the lymph glands), then brain tumours, nephroblastomas, or Wilms tumours – cancer of the kidneys – and then soft tissue sarcomas, (tumours that begin in the connective tissue).

These statistics shows that Leukaemia comprises 25.4% of all cancers, which is similar to rates in other countries. In developed countries brain tumours make up another 25% whilst in South Africa they only make up 13.4%. This discrepancy is thought to be due to under diagnosis, especially in rural and smaller hospitals.

Treatment

Childhood cancers require specialist paediatric treatment by a paediatric oncologist, comprising of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, or a combination of these treatments. In some cases bone marrow or stem cell transplantation is necessary.

According to Choc, and with some exceptions, childhood cancers tend to respond better to treatments such as chemotherapy and children’s bodies tend to cope better with chemotherapy than adults’ bodies. In some cases chemo and radiation therapy can cause long-term side effects so children who have had cancer require careful follow-up throughout their lives.

Cancercare supports CHOC through various initiatives where they raise funds for some of the houses across the Western and Eastern Cape. For more about Choc go to www.choc.org.za

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