Childhood Cancer ~ Quick Facts
As International Childhood Cancer Day on the 15th February grows closer, we thought we would share some quick facts about Childhood Cancer with you.
We do this so that you can understand why those of us at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust are so passionate about what we do, and just how important it is to spread awareness about childhood cancer.
In the run-up to International Childhood Cancer Day the Little Fighters Cancer Trust has upped our advocacy of Child Cancer Awareness and have handed out hundreds of Child Cancer Early Warning Signs posters to be put up at Schools, Churches, Businesses, Fire Departments, and various Municipal Buildings.
It is only by spreading Awareness of the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer as far and wide as possible that we stand any kind of chance of making a positive difference in Childhood Cancer Survival Rates in South Africa, as “Early Detection is the Best Protection”
Definition & Incidence Rates
“Childhood Cancer” is the terminology most commonly used to describe cancer in children under the age of 15. Childhood cancers are rare – they represent 0.5% – 4.6% of all cancers.
The overall incidence rates of childhood cancer varies between 50 – 200 per million children globally.
The most common childhood cancers are Leukaemia, Lymphomas and Tumours of the central nervous system. Neuroblastoma, Nephroblastoma, Medulloblastoma and Retinoblastoma occur almost exclusively in children.
Known Risks for Developing Childhood Cancer
The only definite risk factors for contracting childhood cancer that have been identified to date are the ingestion of the hormone diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy (a treatment no longer in use), and ionising radiation.
Certain childhood cancers are associated with genetic constitution, as suggested by the differences in incidence of childhood cancer between different ethnic populations. Individual susceptibility based on genetics may also play a role.
Some studies have suggested that viruses such as Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis B, Human Herpes and HIV may also contribute to an increased risk for some childhood cancers.
Geographical Variations in the Incidence of Childhood Cancer
Due to the fact that many low- and middle-income countries either do not have cancer registries or have badly kept records, it is difficult to form a comprehensive picture of childhood cancer on a global scale.
Based on the available information, there appears to be rather across-the-board variations in the incidence of childhood cancers such as leukaemia and tumours of the nervous system.
In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, there is a higher incidence rate of lymphomas, in particular Burkitt-lymphoma, than in other regions but less leukaemia and tumours of the nervous system. It is thought that this may be as a result of greater exposure to viral infections.
Early detection and diagnosis is vital! Childhood cancers generally present with very non-specific signs and symptoms, which makes early detection difficult. An unfortunate fact is that childhood cancer is more likely to be detected early in first-world countries due to the fact that children are generally subjected to closer parental and medical surveillance than in lower-income or third-world countries.
Additional barriers to early detection in poorer countries includes minimal access to health services, minimal resources, inadequate diagnostic facilities, and a general lack of awareness surrounding childhood cancer, even among the medical fraternity.
Childhood Cancer Survival Rates
Approximately 80% of children in high-income countries survive five years or more after the diagnosis of cancer. This results in a growing population of long-term survivors who need follow-up treatment and care.
Unfortunately, the prognosis is much lower for children diagnosed with cancer in low- and middle-income countries.
Reasons for this difference include:
- Late diagnosis leading to lower levels of effective treatment;
- Poorly equipped hospitals without the appropriate equipment and medications;
- Other illnesses that children might have;
- A lack of knowledge about cancer among primary health-care providers; and
- The cost of childhood cancer treatment is expensive, and simply unaffordable for many parents in low-income and low-resourced countries
Posted on 11 February, 2016, in Blog and tagged Child Cancer, Child Cancer Awareness, Child Cancer Early Warning Signs, childhood cancer, Childhood Cancer Awareness, Children with Cancer, Little Fighters Cancer Trust. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.