Childhood cancers account for about 3% of all the cancers, revealed Dr. Gauri Kapoor, Medical Director & Director Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center (RGCIRC) on International Childhood Cancer Day.
Throwing light on the number of increasing childhood cancer cases, Dr Kapoor said that of about three lakh childhood cancer cases in the world, about 50,000 cases occur in India each year.
Sharing some vital myths & facts related to the Childhood Cancer, she said most cases of childhood cancer can be cured if treated on time.
“There is a myth that adult and childhood cancers are the same, whereas the truth is – Adult and childhood cancers are different. They’re different in terms of the type of cancer that occurs, the nature of the disease and the response to treatment and cure rates. In children we have Leukemia, Brain and spinal cord tumours, Neuroblastoma, Wilmstumour, Lymphoma and Retinoblastoma,” she said.
While childhood cancers are fast growing, but they also respond very well to chemotherapy if these are diagnosed in a timely fashion and treated by the right team, she added.
Another myth is – Blood cancer in children is not curable, whereas the fact is – Blood cancer in children is very different from that in the adults, stated the doctor.
“Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common blood cancer in children and with modern treatments, ALL is curable in over 80% of the children. Treatment in specialized pediatric cancer facilities ensures successful outcome,” she said.
According to Dr. Kapoor, symptoms of childhood cancer can mimic other common pediatric illnesses. “The symptoms of childhood cancer are prolonged, unexplained fever; unexplained paleness and weakness; easy bruising or bleeding; an unusual lump or swelling or pain in one area of the body; frequent headaches often with vomiting and sudden changes in the eye or vision,” she mentioned.
Dr. Kapoor said, environment and cancer have direct correlation, it has been noticed that nutrition and exercise have an important role to play in preventing cancer. Those who are obese, have junk food are more likely to have cancers. So good habits need to be inculcated right from childhood, added Dr Kapoor.
Talking about Childhood cancer and mental well being, Dr. Gauri said, it is a fact that the treatment for childhood cancer is prolonged and fairly intensive. “For one, there is need to create right ambience in the dedicated area for children in the hospitals so that the children are distracted from their ailment and stay in a happy frame of mind. Secondly one can ensure that all procedures may be carried out in painless way as far as possible, be it giving injections or blood tests. Third, availability of counsellors just for the children,” said the doctor.