Early de­tec­tion key in child­hood can­cers

Public Sector Manager - - Contents - To be­come a donor, call 0800 121082 toll-free, or go to www.sun­flow­er­fund.org.za

Be­tween 800 and 1 000 South African chil­dren un­der the age of 15 are di­ag­nosed with can­cer each year.

Most chil­dren can be treated suc­cess­fully if the dis­ease is de­tected at an early stage, which high­lights the im­por­tance of par­ents and child­min­ders hav­ing some aware­ness of child­hood can­cers and pos­si­ble symp­toms.

Early warn­ing signs

Pub­lic aware­ness re­gard­ing the symp­toms of child­hood can­cer is vi­tal be­cause early treat­ment is crit­i­cal.

Can­cers in chil­dren tend to dif­fer from those found in adults, most of­ten oc­cur­ring in the devel­op­ing cells such as in the tis­sues of the bone mar­row, blood, kid­neys and ner­vous sys­tem.

Dif­fer­ent types of can­cer may occur in chil­dren and th­ese may cause a va­ri­ety of symp­toms. It is, how­ever, es­sen­tial to seek med­i­cal as­sis­tance im­me­di­ately if your child dis­plays some of the com­mon early warn­ing signs. Th­ese may in­clude:

• Con­tin­ued, un­ex­plained weight­loss.

Headaches, gen­er­ally ac­com­pa­nied by vom­it­ing, of­ten oc­cur­ring in the early morn­ing or evening. In­creased swelling or pain in the bones, joints, back or legs.

• A lump or mass in the ab­domen, neck, chest, pelvis or armpits. Devel­op­ment of excessive bruis­ing, bleed­ing or a rash.

Con­stant in­fec­tions.

A whitish colour be­hind the pupil. Per­sis­tent nau­sea or vom­it­ing with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ac­tual nau­sea. Con­stant tired­ness or no­tice­able pale­ness.

Eye or vi­sion changes that occur sud­denly and then per­sist. Re­cur­rent fevers of an un­known ori­gin.


Child­hood can­cers re­quire spe­cial­ist treat­ment by a pae­di­atric on­col­o­gist. Treat­ment op­tions vary and will de­pend upon the type of can­cer and how far it has ad­vanced. Treat­ment may in­clude chemo­ther­apy, surgery, ra­di­a­tion treat­ment, or a com­bi­na­tion of th­ese. Stem cell bone mar­row trans­plants may form part of the treat­ment for blood can­cers such as leukaemia.

Chil­dren tend to be more re­silient to the side-ef­fects of treat­ment such as chemo­ther­apy when com­pared to adults. How­ever, in cer­tain in­stances, chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion can cause long-term side ef­fects and chil­dren with can­cer will there­fore re­quire reg­u­lar fol­low-ups through­out their lives.

Stem cell do­na­tions

While the chances of find­ing a donor match for some­one with leukaemia or other life threat­en­ing blood dis­eases are low (around one in 100 000), it is pos­si­ble that you could be a match and your bone mar­row could po­ten­tially save some­one’s life.

While fam­ily mem­bers, and sib­lings in par­tic­u­lar, are gen­er­ally the most suit­able donors, only a small per­cent­age of pa­tients have a com­pat­i­ble sib­ling match, and around 70 per­cent of pa­tients will re­quire an un­re­lated donor match.

Any healthy per­son be­tween the ages of 18 and 45 can be­come a bone mar­row donor. All that is re­quired is a small sam­ple of blood, which is then sent to a spe­cialised lab­o­ra­tory for tis­sue typ­ing. Fol­low­ing that, the re­sults are then placed on The South African Bone Mar­row Registry.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.