Are You Child Cancer Aware?

Friday February 15, 2013 | Abby White, WE C Hope CEO

Today is World Child Cancer Day.

Why is that important?  Why should we be concerned when childhood cancer accounts for only 1-3% of all cancer cases?

There is a general belief that childhood cancer has a low impact on society and childhood death because it is rare.  This is far from the reality.

Childhood cancer is rare, but it is the leading cause of death by disease in children in developed countries – more than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined. Cancer is also the second most common cause of death by disease among children aged 1 to 15 in the developing world.

80% of children have advanced disease at diagnosis, compared with 30% of adults.  This very clearly demonstrates poor awareness of childhood cancer among parents and primary health workers caring for children and teenagers.

As children’s bodies and minds are developing during cancer treatment, side effects of therapy can have life-long impact on physical and emotional development.  Long term side effects are much less prevalent in adults, whose bodies are fully developed at the time of diagnosis and treatment.

The average age of children at diagnosis is 6 years, compared with 67 years among adults, so children have many more years of productive life ahead of them.  Therefore, death and poor quality of life due to effects of childhood cancer and its treatment have significantly more societal impact than does cancer in adulthood.

The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, often requiring less intense therapy and fewer invasive procedures that have lower cost physically, emotionally and financially.  Awareness of childhood cancer is key to achieving early diagnosis, saving lives and limiting the burden of cancer treatment on the child, family and wider society.

Are you Child Cancer Aware? Know the early warning signs of cancer in children!

Seek medical help early for persistent symptoms.

  • Eye: white spot in the eye, new squint, new blindness, bulging eyeball.
  • Lump in the abdomen, pelvis, head,neck, limbs, testes or glands.
  • Unexplained prolonged fever for over 2 weeks, loss of weight, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Aching bones, joints, back, and easy fractures.
  • Neurological Signs: change or deterioration in walk, balance or speech, regression of milestones, headaches for more than a week with or without vomiting, enlarging head.

Compiled by the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group

Childhood Cancer Day Awareness Flyer, a partnership of the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO) and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP).

Do you know the signs of childhood cancer?

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