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Childhood Cancer awareness month: Doctors share insights to create awareness

“Cancer in children is a rare disease. About 50,000 new cases of cancers are diagnosed every year in children less than 15 years of age in India,” said Dr. Gauri Kapoor, Medical Director RGCIRC.

SNS | New Delhi |

As the world observes Childhood Cancer awareness month in September, doctors from Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre (RGCIRC) shared their insights to create awareness about Childhood Cancer and its causes.

Dr. Gauri Kapoor, Medical Director RGCIRC, Niti Bagh, & Director Pediatric Hematology & Oncology said, “Cancer in children is a rare disease. About 50000 new cases of cancers are diagnosed every year in children less than 15 years of age in India. “

She further said, “Blood cancer or leukemia is the most common cancer in children. However, it is highly curable if it is detected early and treated at specialized hospitals. About 70 percent of Cancer cases in children are curable.”

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.”

A lot of immunotherapy is being tried out in these children so that the toxicity of the treatment is minimized and the late effects could be reduced. And these are important for children because they get treatment during the growing age when their organ functions have not matured yet and they have still long lives to live, added Dr. Kapoor.

Talking about Childhood cancer and mental wellbeing, Dr. Gauri said, it is a fact that the treatment for childhood cancer is prolonged and fairly intensive. It involves coming to the hospital frequently, may require hospitalization, and frequent injections and all of this can cause a certain amount of stress not only to the child but also to the family. This needs to be addressed on several fronts.

Speaking about cancer in children, Dr. Sandeep Jain, Sr. Consultant – Pediatric Hematology & Oncology at RGCIRC stated, unfortunately only 10-15% of childhood cancer cases in India can get appropriate treatment.

“Many a time symptoms and signs of childhood cancer may not be very unique and may mimic common childhood illnesses,” said Dr. Sandeep Jain.

Dr. Payal Malhotra, Consultant Paediatric Oncology, RGCIRC (Rohini) said, “Childhood and adult cancers are not the same and childhood cancers are highly curable. Childhood cancer is very rare but it is important to understand the red flag signs.”

“Cure rates in India are less since patients have already reached an advanced stage of cancer by the time they are sent to specialized centers. Awareness about red flag signs needs to be increased among physicians,” said Dr. Payal.