Childhood cancer: Doctor busts myths around paediatric cancer, reveals facts
Paediatric cancer or childhood cancer comes with an array of myths that need to be busted. Here are some of them.
The cure rate of paediatric cancer is almost 80 percent but the disturbing fact is there is very less awareness about cancers in children as the incidence of childhood cancer in the society is still not addressed. Childhood cancers are not usually preventable or detected with screening but if detected early, childhood malignancies are highly curable with a cure rate of 80% where they are usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, either as a single modality or combination of these.
The disturbing fact is there is very less awareness about paediatric cancer in our country and a large portion of the incidence of childhood cancer in the society is still not addressed. The symptom of each cancer varies but the most prominent factors in all of them are poor growth, poor weight gain and decreased appetite and cancer in children is quite different from that in adults in many ways.
Pediatric cancer comes with an array of myths that need to be busted. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Amit Kumar, Pediatric Oncologist from HCG Cancer Care Centre in Mumbai, debunked some of these myths and shared facts -
1. Myth: Pediatric cancer is infectious
Fact: That’s not true as cancer is a non communicable disease unlike flu and it cannot be transmitted.
2. Myth: Childhood cancers are inherited from parents
Fact: Not all childhood cancers are genetic. In fact, most of the childhood cancers have no association with genetic patterns and heredity and are due to random mutation.
3. Myth: Childhood cancers cannot be cured
Fact: Childhood cancers like all other forms of cancer are very much curable when diagnosed at an early stage and the treatment is started at the right time. In recent years, several advancements and breakthroughs in cancer care have made that possible.
4. Myth: Children with cancer have a short lifespan and do not enjoy a good quality of life
Fact: Those children who get cured may have normal life expectancy. Any kind of complications depend on the stage and type of care but they can still lead a normal life with enhanced quality, just like their peers.
5. Myth: Childhood cancer survivors do not require follow-up care
Fact: Childhood cancer survivors, like any other cancer survivors would require regular follow-up as without that they may be at an increased risk of developing side effects due to prior cancer.
6. Myth: Chemotherapy makes the child lose hair permanently
Fact: Hair loss due to chemotherapy is temporary and child will have normal hairs after completion of treatment.
7. Myth: A child is prone to infectious diseases due to low immunity even after cancer is cured, so child should not be allowed to play out doors ever after
Fact: children get back their normal immunity status within few months of completion of treatment and they should be treated like any other child and should be allowed to play and participate in all the outdoor activities as per his/her peer group.
8. Myth: Childhood cancer survivors have fertility issues and cannot reproduce
Fact: There are many cancer warriors who have normal reproductive course as due precautions are taken while planning the treatment so that child’s fertility is not affected.
9. Myth: We should never tell children directly that they have cancer
Fact: We are living in an age of information and it's practically impossible to hide anything from children specially adolescents. It may be difficult but is helpful in getting their active support to win over cancer. Adolescents specially need to be talked to about disease to gain their confidence before planning treatment. It actually helps them to see life beyond cancer.