In PGIMER, cancer cases among children  have doubled in 8 years
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In PGIMER, cancer cases among children have doubled in 8 years

Nearly 500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year at PGIMER

punjab Updated: Jun 07, 2017 17:13 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
The number of cancer patients have increased to 8,774 in 2015-16. (HT Photo)

Jumping from one corner of the bed to another, mimicking Hanuman’s cartoon and making animal sounds, a 3-year-old Sachin Pandey (name changed) is as naughty as any other child, but there is one thing, which differentiates him from others- his smile and courage to fight cancer.

Sachin Pandey from Jammu was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in stage four. Doctors say that chances of his survival are only 30%.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells. Most commonly it arises in and around the adrenal glands; however, neuroblastoma can also develop in other areas of the abdomen, chest, neck and near the spine.

“He has undergone 10 chemotherapies, stem cell transplant and will take a radiotherapy treatment after this. He has not gone out of the PGIMER for the last six months,” said his father Gaurav Pandey, who has left his job to look after his son.

The parents are praying that the treatment should not relapse as the child won’t be able to take another set of chemotherapies.

Sachin is one of the hundreds of children undergoing cancer treatment at the advanced paediatrics centre, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Nearly 500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year at PGIMER.

Cancer cases among children doubled in 8 years

According to the data provided by the doctors from the advanced paediatrics centre (APC), PGIMER, the number of paediatric cancer cases has almost doubled in the last eight years.

In 2008-09, total 4,458 children with cancer were treated at the PGIMER. The number increased to 8,774 in 2015-16. The number has been gradually increasing every year.

“Improvement in treatment and more awareness among people is leading to an increase in the number of cancer cases at the institute. Every year, more number of old cases is adding up to the list,” said Dr Deepak Bansal, professor, haematology/oncology unit, APC, PGIMER.

Long wait for chemotherapy for children

At any given moment, three to four children are on waiting list for chemotherapy. At times, they have to wait for a week. The reason is that while the number of children suffering with cancer has increased, the number of beds only remain 25.

Leukaemia, the most common cancer

Leukaemia –blood cancer- is the most common cancer among children. Nearly 200 new cases are reported every year at the APC, PGIMER.

Dr Deepak Bansal said, “There are no risk factors, it just happens. It can happen to any child in the age group of 0-12 years but most importantly it occurs in 2-5 year-old children.”

The common symptoms include prolonged fever (over 3-4 weeks), body aches, dropping haemoglobin, bleeding spots on body and others.

Doctor said that over 80% cases are curable. The treatment is chemotherapy and it takes over 2 years

Retinoblastoma, eye cancer

Retinoblastoma, rare type of eye cancer, is the second most common cancer among children seen at the PGIMER.

It impacts either single or both eyes of the children but it is treatable. In 90% cases, it is curable. “Symptoms include cat eye reflex (white pupil), squint and poor vision among children. It does not mean that every child with squint has cancer but parents should not ignore the symptom,” said Dr Deepak Bansal.

In a majority of cases, family reaches late and most of them avoid treatment. They get afraid when we inform that in extreme case eye will have to be removed.

The treatment includes a combination of chemotherapy and laser and it continues for 6 months.

First Published: Jun 07, 2017 15:01 IST