No Child or Family should have to Face Cancer on their Own
1 September 2016 – CANSA is highlighting the importance of childhood cancer awareness this September. Cancer is relatively rare in children, amounting to approximately 2% of cancers worldwide however it’s important to know the warning signs of cancer in children.
It’s estimated that at least half of all children with cancer in South Africa are never diagnosed. Childhood cancers share general symptoms with other illnesses, but if one or more of the symptoms persist, seek medical assistance immediately. View symptoms and warning signs…
The most common cancers in children are leukaemias, lymphomas, brain tumours, sarcomas, Wilms tumour, retinoblastoma and germ cell tumours. Leukaemia accounts for more than 25% of all children’s cancers in South Africa and brain tumours account for 13.44%.
Risk Reduction Tips for Children and Youth
Promoting Protective Behaviours:
- Completing the two dose human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as supplied in schools nationally by Department of Health in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education to reduce the risk of cervical cancer
- Eating a healthy well-balanced diet
- Getting enough physical activity
Reducing Harmful Exposures:
- Children’s skins need protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they are outdoors
- Avoiding indoor tanning or sunbeds
- No smoking
- Preventing under-age drinking
- Avoiding exposure to certain chemicals
- Limiting radiation dose during medical imaging procedures
Awareness, Education and Early Diagnosis
Gerda Strauss, CANSA’s Head of Service Delivery states, “No child or family should have to face cancer on their own. CANSA has a Tough Living with Cancer (TLC) Programme that focuses on raising awareness of childhood cancers and early detection, as well as providing tangible love, care and support to youth and families affected by cancer. Children and teens diagnosed with cancer or affected by cancer (a family member has cancer) are supported.”
How CANSA can Help
CANSA has currently five CANSA TLC facilities for children / teens and parents and families affected by cancer, offering accommodation to mothers, guardians and caregivers. They based in Pretoria, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Durban.
“We embrace a holistic approach to include all aspects of physical, spiritual, psychological and social wellbeing. We educate and promote awareness of childhood cancers and early detection. CANSA TLC also offers support groups, prosthetic assistance, skills development programmes and educational school programmes, adds Strauss.
In September 2015, CANSA opened its CANSA TLC Brian Davey Step Down Unit at the CANSA TLC Nicus Lodge. It serves the Steve Biko, Unitas and Pretoria East hospitals, providing a sterile but family friendly environment where children can safely prepare for, or recover from, stem cell transplants and build up their immune systems, without risk of infection.
Strauss continues; “We know how tough a cancer diagnosis can be on a family, especially when there is a child involved. For this reason, we try and accommodate those families as best we can, and we do this through our CANSA TLC Programme. We urge all families who have children who are cancer patients, to make contact with our CANSA Care Centres, to find out how we can help you.”
Parents of children who have cancer are invited to join our TLC Facebook Support Group.
Research on Childhood Cancer
CANSA also provides assistance through its research programme and is currently supporting two research projects on childhood cancer.
Brain tumours are the second most common cancer in children, but little is known about them. Even in well-resourced settings, brain tumours account for most of the cancer-related deaths in children. In particular, virtually nothing is known about children with brain tumours in a South African setting. Prof Figaji from the Institute for Child Health at Red Cross Children’s Hospital is leading a study funded by CANSA in order to generate substantial epidemiological and clinical information on this neglected area, and build a platform for paediatric brain tumour research in South Africa through development of a biobank of cancer specimens to be used for future research. Read more…
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL) comprises about 5% of all childhood cancers and has one of the highest reported cure rates in well-resourced settings at 80-90%. However there is no published research on cure rates in South African children with HL. Dr Jennifer Geel from the University of the Witwatersrand Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is heading up a study funded by CANSA to determine the survival rate of South African children with HL and to compare these rates across the different treating units. This is the first study of its kind in South Africa that analyses data from every paediatric oncology unit in the country. Read more…