|Lyn addressing presents|
Cancer is no longer a disease of western nations with aging populations; it afflicts the young and old alike. Childhood cancer kills more children annually than any other disease including HIV/AIDS. 70% of all childhood cancers are 100% curable if diagnosed in time. In South Africa, less than 50% of childhood cancer cases are diagnosed due to lack of awareness of the symptoms, resulting in hundreds of children dying each year.
Women in Action invited CHOC (Children’s Hematology Oncology Clinics), an organization established in 1979 by a parent group in Johannesburg, to come and give a talk to invited parents/teachers/care givers/youths on the early warning signs of cancer in children. CHOC’s mission is to contribute to the well being of children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders as well as their families. One of their goals is to support communities in the treatment of cancer. Within South Africa, very few children receive effective treatment because they are diagnosed at such a late state, if they are diagnosed at all. As late detection of childhood cancer results in deaths, some of which could have been prevented, due to the lack of awareness and knowledge many children are not treated effectively as the parent/teacher/care giver do not know what the early warning signs of cancer in children is like.
|Donna, our Team Coordinator|
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13%) in 2008. The awareness of early signs and symptoms of the various types of cancer in children (leukemia, brain and other nervous system tumors, neuroblastoma, wilms tumor, lymphoma, etc) can be diagnoses and treated early before the disease becomes advanced.
To further impact the message on the early warning signs and symptoms of cancer in children, WiA had this information translated into Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans, making it easier for it to be understood and what they should be on the look out for if they suspect that a child might have the disease. The signs are:
Seek: Medical help early for persistent symptoms
Eye: White spot in the eye, new squint, new blindness, bulging eyeball
Lump: Abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands
Unexplained: Prolonged fever over two weeks, loss of weight, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
Aching: Bones, joints, back and easy fractures
Neurological: Change or deterioration in walk, balance or speech, regression of milestones, headache for more than a week with or without vomiting, enlarging head
Emphasis was made that if any of these signs are suspected in the child – do not ignore but seek medical help as soon as possible as early detection saves lives.
by Donna Owumbiko
Cancer Supporters Team Coordinatior