With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Childhood Cancer Foundation SA (Choc) is encouraging parents and caregivers to familiarise themselves with the early symptoms.
“It is imperative that children are diagnosed early for effective treatment of early-stage disease, which will translate into favourable outcomes and improved overall survival,” said Choc CEO Hedley Lewis.
According to Lewis, accessing hospitals was difficult for low and middle-income families, which means that children are not able to get the essential tests needed to receive early detection.
This is worsened by shortages of personnel and equipment in public hospitals, as well as the continued strain on medical services due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because of this, Lewis said they were working hard to promote the Siluan Warning Signs of childhood cancer, which has been adopted by both the Choc Study Group and the department of health.
The system is organised as follows:
Try and organise medical help as soon as possible
A white spot in the eye, a new squint, new blindness or bulging eyeballs can be indicators of childhood cancer
A new lump on the abdomen, pelis, head, neck, limbs, testes or glands can indicate the presence of a tumour
If your child suffers from prolonged fever of over two weeks, weight loss, pallor, fatigue, sudden bleeding or bruises easily, it could be an early sign of cancer
Aching bones and joints, or easy fractures, are a possible symptom
Watch out for changes or deterioration in walking, balance or speech, regression of milestones, lingering headaches for more than a week with or without vomiting, or the enlarging of the head
“We encourage the community to be a voice of hope this September and collaborate with healthcare workers, non-profit organisations and the department of health to spread the Siluan Warning Signs for early cancer diagnosis.
“This could possibly save the life of a child or teenager,” Lewis said.
Parents who think their child may have cancer can find more information at https://choc.org.za.