Cancer is Curable: Much remains to be done to fight Childhood Cancer

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Approx 40000 children being diagnosed with cancer each year in India

Mumbai, 28 September 2019: The month of September has been marked in the calendar worldwide as the childhood cancer awareness month. Cancers in children are different from adults. Unlike adult cancers, cancers in children are usually highly curable. 7-8 children out of 10 can be cured from cancer if diagnosed on time and treated appropriately.

The common types of cancer seen in children vary by age. Common sites include blood and bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, nervous system, kidneys and soft tissues. In younger children, blood cancers are the commonest. In the adolescent age group, certain types of cancers of the bone and muscle are seen more frequently than younger children. Neuroblastoma and Wilms Tumor occur commonly in the first 5 years of life and Ewing sarcoma and Hodgkin lymphoma are commoner in children > 10 years of age.

Facts about cancer in children:
Childhood cancer is curable if diagnosed early and treated appropriately.
It is not infectious and does not spread from one child to another
It is not usually inherited through the genes
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential for good cure rate.
Cancer in children is quite different from that in adults in many ways. Firstly only 3% of all the cancers are seen in children, and secondly, they are fast growing but also very sensitive to chemotherapy treatment.
As the treatment is often long it is very important that extra care is taken at home to ensure treatment discipline, good hygiene and balanced nutrition.
The treatment for cancer is somewhat complicated therefore it is advisable to take treatment in an experienced and specialized paediatric centre
A child after completing after treatment for cancer is normal like any other child and can go to school and play etc.

Dr. Akanksha Chichra, Surya Hospitals – Paediatric Oncologist & BMT Physician says, “The treatment of childhood cancers requires the joint efforts of the Pediatric Oncologist, General pediatrician, Pediatric intensivist, Pediatric surgeon, Radiation oncologist, Occupational therapist and social worker.
“The main types of treatment used for childhood cancer include- chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Same types of cancers might be treated with high dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. Newer types of treatment like targeted therapy and immunotherapy have also shown promise in treating some types of childhood cancers. Cure is a very realistic and practically achievable goal if given proper treatment.” She further commented.

The era of risk adapted therapy in the field of pediatric oncology has helped to improve overall outcomes and also improve quality of life of the survivors of childhood cancer.

Major advancements in the techniques of delivering radiation in children with solid tumors, like IMRT and IGRT, have also helped to give better tumor directed therapy and with lesser side effects.