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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

80% childhood cancers are curable, say experts

Even though advancement in cancer cure in the past few decades has made it possible to treat nearly 80% of all childhood cancers globally, the percentage is lower in India mainly because there is still lack of sufficient awareness.

health Updated: Nov 02, 2019 23:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Awareness is low not only among people, but doctors as well, feel cancer specialists.
Awareness is low not only among people, but doctors as well, feel cancer specialists.(HT File Photo (Representative Image))
         

It is difficult for adults to deal with cancer diagnosis, but for children it is easier.

Even though advancement in cancer cure in the past few decades has made it possible to treat nearly 80% of all childhood cancers globally, the percentage is lower in India mainly because there is still lack of sufficient awareness.

Awareness is low not only among people, but doctors as well, feel cancer specialists.

“In India the cure rate ranges between 40-80% because of various factors such as infrastructure, expert availability and trained staff etc. that may not be the same everywhere,” says Dr Sandeep Jain, senior consultant, paediatric haematology-oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC).

Childhood cancer is quite different from cancers in adults.

“For children the main thing we keep in mind is that they have their entire life before them so the treatment has to be designed keeping in mind long-term outcome. The focus is on ensuring that they live a long and healthy life. It is important they receive the right care and counseling for a wholesome recovery, and also it’s important to understand that there may be long term effects of the primary disease as well as its treatment,” said Dr Jain.

The RGCIRC observed an event- Celebrating Life 2019- on Saturday to create awareness about childhood cancers by inviting patients who have been treated successfully at the hospital by sharing their stories, to motivate and create awareness.

Not just people, even nurses and paediatricians need to be made aware of the early signs of cancer that can be picked up during routine examination among children and investigated further feel cancer specialists.

“It’s important to reach a specialist at the right time but in most case as we see, people come to us after second or third stage has reached. The key to better cure rate for cancer is to start treatment on time. We also see in some cases people are on alternate therapy. If they want they can continue with those therapies alongwith the main cancer treatment. It’s, however, not advisable to stop the treatment midway and rely purely on alternate therapy,” says Dr PK Julka, head, medical oncology, Max Healthcare.

The curable cancers among children include that of blood, lymph nodes, kidney tumours, germ cell tumours etc. Early Diagnosis, appropriate treatment and treatment compliance, which means following the medicine doses etc is the key to cure.

Signs to watch out for

White spot in the eye, new squint, blindness, bulging eyeball etc

Lump in abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands

Unexplained fever, loss of weight and appetite, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding

Aching bones, joints, back and easy fractures

Change in behavior, balance, gait and milestones, headache, enlarging head