Warning Signs of Paediatric Cancers


awareness_childhood_cancer_boxing_penguinCancers are malignant (malicious) growths or tumours caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division which may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream.

An arbitrarily adopted standard of the ages used if they are childhood cancers, are 0–14 years inclusive, that is, up to 14 years 11.9 months of age.

Paediatric oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in children.

Cancer isn’t fair at any age, but perhaps no cancer is more emotionally devastating than those that occur in children. Worldwide, it is estimated that childhood cancer has an incidence of more than 250,000 per year, and a mortality rate of approximately 98,000 per year. Death from Childhood Cancer is second only to death from accidents according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In low resource settings such as developing countries, mortality is a high as 80% – 90% especially in the world’s poorest countries. This high mortality is explained by low human resources, lack of infrastructures, poverty and mostly by ignorance.

 

Causes of Childhood Cancers

The types of cancers that develop in children are different from those that develop in adults. Lifestyle or environmental risk factors do not play a role in Childhood Cancer. Childhood Cancer generally occurs as the result of DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life. Thus they can appear at a very early age.

In a small percentage of childhood cancers, familial or genetic factors are thought to predispose the child to cancer. An even smaller percentage of childhood cancer has an identified environmental link.

  • Identified familial and genetic factors  5-15%;
  • Environmental exposures & exogenous factors <5-10%;
  • Unknown causes 75-90%.

The most common cancers in children are:

  • Leukaemia (34%);
  • Brain Tumours (23%);
  • Lymphomas (12%)

In Rwanda, however, nephroblastoma is the most prevalent.

How Childhood Cancers Present

Since most of the symptoms of cancer can also be attributed to benign conditions, the diagnosis of cancer can be a long process. Parents must trust and work as a team with health professionals, using their knowledge of their child and health professional’s knowledge of medicine.

There are different types of Childhood Cancers; some progress rapidly and others slowly.

Here are warning signs of childhood cancers:

  • Continued unexplained weight loss;
  • Headaches, often with early morning vomiting;
  • Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back, or legs;
  • Lump or mass, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits;
  • Development of excessive bruising, bleeding, or rash; and
  • Constant infections.

Others signs include; a whitish colour behind the pupil; nausea which persists or vomiting without nausea; constant tiredness or noticeable paleness and recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin.

Childhood Cancers arising from blood, kidney, brain and eyes are going undiagnosed until late stages even though they present so early, especially in developing countries, leading to a high mortality rate in cancers that generally show up to an 80% survival rate in developed countries.

We need to understand the character and presentations of Childhood Cancers. As with all cancers, relieving the pain, symptoms, and distress of cancer experienced by children (palliative care), and their families is as important as treating the disease itself.

Survivors of Childhood Cancers face massive challenges – around 66% of children with Childhood Cancers suffer long-term effects from treatment, including secondary cancers, learning disabilities, loss of hearing and sight, heart disease, and more.

One of the Little Fighters Cancer Trust’s main objectives is to share knowledge about Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer by sharing information as widely as possible in an effort to make the public as well as medical personnel more aware of the Early Warning Signs, thereby saving thousands of lives.

 

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About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 23 February, 2017, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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