World Cancer Day 2019: What Is Childhood Cancer? What Are The Symptoms? Know All This And More By A Top Oncologist
The common cancers of childhood are blood cancers (leukemia), lymph cancers (lymphoma), brain cancers, muscle/bone cancers (sarcoma) and tumours of kidney (Wilms tumour)
Treatment of children with cancer is very specialized.
- 2-4% of all cancer patients in India are children
- 80% of children with cancer can get cured
- Cure of cancer in a child is only possible if treatment is completed
Although cancer is becoming increasingly common, it still remains an uncommon illness in children. 2-4% of all cancer patients in India are children. Still, 50,000 children in India will develop cancer every year. The common cancers of childhood are blood cancers (leukemia), lymph cancers (lymphoma), brain cancers, muscle/bone cancers (sarcoma) and tumours of kidney (Wilms tumour). In most cases these cancers in children do not have an underlying cause. If a child does develop cancer, it is important to know that there is nothing the parents or the child could have done to prevent it.
It is important that we diagnose these children in time and give the right and complete treatment. With this 80% of children with cancer can get cured. Treatment depends on the type of cancer and includes medicines (chemotherapy), radiation therapy and surgery.
To give a child with cancer in India the best chance of cure, we need to do the following:
Get diagnosis and start treatment in time. Parents of children with cancer can improve the chances of cure by seeking medical help early when the child is unwell and cancer is suspected. The healthcare team can assist by being aware of the symptoms of childhood cancer and doing an urgent referral to the appropriate centre when cancer is suspected. The symptoms of childhood cancer are variable and can sometime mimic those of other common childhood illnesses. If any of the following symptoms in a child persist or occur repeatedly, then a doctor should be consulted:
- An unusual lump or swelling
- Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- An ongoing pain in one area of the body including bones, joints and back
- Unexplained fever or illness that doesn't go away
- Frequent headache, often with vomiting
- Change or worsening in walk, balance or speech
- Sudden eye or vision changes including white spot in the eye, new squint, new blindness, bulging eyeball
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
Appropriate treatment at the appropriate centre
Treatment of children with cancer is very specialized. It is best done by doctors trained in this field i.e. paediatric oncologists. In addition it needs a team of experts to provide the best care. These include cancer/pediatric surgeons, radiation facilities, blood bank and ICU. A good centre will have all these available. The treatment is often long and complex and is based on the scientific knowledge gained across the world over many years. Ensure that treatment is being done with the latest national or international protocols. Sometimes, a clinical trial may be available in the treating centre. In such a case the parents should discuss with the doctor if their child should be enrolled on it.
Social and psychological support
Cure of cancer in a child is only possible if treatment is completed. During the treatment, the child and the family need all the support from family and friends as well as the treating team. Support can be in the form of social support (assistance for food, accommodation, medicines, test, etc.) and psychological supports (counselling, support group, etc). Continuous and open communication between the parents and treating team is critical.
(Dr. Ramandeep Singh Arora is an oncologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
DoctorNDTV is the one stop site for all your health needs providing the most credible health information, health news and tips with expert advice on healthy living, diet plans, informative videos etc. You can get the most relevant and accurate info you need about health problems like diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, weight loss and many other lifestyle diseases. We have a panel of over 350 experts who help us develop content by giving their valuable inputs and bringing to us the latest in the world of healthcare.