A disease in which there is an abnormal growth of cells in a particular body part, which spreads through the body, is called cancer. It is a non-contagious but deadly disease which is also a leading cause of death for children and adolescents.
Cancer can be caused to any individual of any age group and can affect any part of the body. It begins with a genetic change in single cells that then grow into a mass or tumour. The tumour then further invades other parts of the body and causes harm and death if left untreated. Many childhood cancers do not have a known cause but environmental and lifestyle changes can influence the change in the growth of cells too.
Each year, an estimated 4,00,000 children and adolescents of 0-19 years old develop cancer. In high-income countries, where comprehensive services are generally accessible, more than 80% of children with cancer are cured, whereas in low or middle income countries less than 30%.
Family and health professionals should be aware of the signs and symptoms of the early stages of childhood cancer.
The Signs And Symptoms To Make People Aware Of The Early Stages Of Childhood Cancer, Shared By WHO Are:
- Unexplained Fever And Weight Loss- often, the tumour can grow so much that it suppresses the stomach and causes weight loss by loss of appetite. This is the first noticeable symptom in cancers of oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, ovarian, and lung.
- Severe Headaches- there can be either primary headaches like migraine or tension headaches that are caused due to muscle contractions.
- Fever- it may indicate that the cancer is spreading or has moved on to another level.
- Limb Or Bone Pain- it is the most common sign of bone cancer.
Cancer is treatable when detected early. If the symptoms are detected and cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, we can stop it from spreading. Childhood cancers can be cured with generic medicines and other forms of treatment including surgery and radiotherapy treatment, children also need special attention and care to their continual physical and cognitive growth and nutritional status, which requires a dedicated and multi-disciplinary team.
Over To You:
Delay in diagnosis or not being able to obtain an accurate diagnosis, death from treatment or toxicity can lower the survival rate of low and middle income group children. Awareness of symptoms by families and primary caregivers; accurate and timely clinical evaluation, diagnosis and access to prompt treatment can help in early diagnosis and cure of childhood cancer.