Childhood cancer remains a significant global health challenge, with almost 400,000 children diagnosed annually worldwide.
By Aneesa Adams
Despite being relatively rare, childhood cancer is one of the leading causes of death in high-income countries amongst children under the age of 15. Sadly, in low- and middle-income countries, many children with cancer are either not diagnosed on time or referred too late for curative care.
The most common types of childhood cancers include leukaemia, lymphoma, brain, kidney, and eye tumours. To address this issue, the World Health Organization, governments, civil society organizations, and healthcare workers have partnered to meet the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC) goals of a 60% overall survival in children and adolescents with cancer in low-and middle-income countries by 2030.
The Department of Health in South Africa, working together with the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group and CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa, has initiated a programme to disseminate information and raise awareness about the early warning signs and unique challenges faced by children with cancer and their families. The programme aims to empower communities with knowledge, offer support to all children during their arduous journey, and improve the overall survival rate.
The St Siluan’s warning signs of childhood cancer is a useful tool for identifying early warning signs, and includes:
(S)eek medical help early for ongoing symptoms.
(I)White spot in the eye, new squint, sudden blindness or bulging eyeball.
(L)ump on the stomach, pelvis, head, arms, legs, testicle, or glands.
(U)nexplained fever present for over two weeks, weight loss, fatigue, pale appearance, easy bruising & bleeding.
(A)ching bones, joints, back, and easy fractures.
(N)eurological signs, a change in walk, balance or speech, regression, continuous headaches with/without vomiting, and enlarged head.
“International Childhood Cancer Day is observed annually across the world on 15 February. The theme this year is: #ThroughTheirHands, which focusses on paying tribute to the families and caregivers, and the positive impact they have on the lives of children and adolescents living with cancer.” said CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA CEO Hedley Lewis.
Days like these are important to increase awareness of the early warning signs, improving access to treatment, and providing support to children with cancer and their families, we can take significant steps towards achieving the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer goals and improving the overall survival rate of children with cancer.