Childhood Cancer Day 2021: Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment suggests Dr Vipin Khandelwal

This Childhood Cancer Day, we took an opportunity to speak with Dr Vipin Khandelwal to give expertise on the same. Here are some common facts about childhood cancer in India and how early diagnosis and help in a successful treatment.
Childhood Cancer Day 2021: Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment suggests Dr Vipin Khandelwal
  • 1
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Share on whatsapp

Childhood cancer is an important cause of death for children and adolescents around the world and approximately 300,000 children aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer each year. In India, childhood cancer comprises almost 3-5 percent of the total cancer cases. According to the Indian cancer society. The good news is that most paediatric cancers are now curable with multimodality treatment thereby achieving a cure rate of about 80 percent.

The most common categories of childhood cancers include Leukaemia’s, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumour. Among all these Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common cancer with a cure rate of about 90 percent.

A diagnosis of cancer is very distressful at any age, but especially so when the patient is a child. It's natural to have many questions. Here are some commonly asked questions and we had an opportunity to get them answered for you by Dr Vipin Khandelwal, Consultant & In charge, Paediatric Haematol – Oncology, BLK Centre for Bone Marrow Transplant.

What is the cause for cancer - Can cancer be inherited from parents?

Like any other cancer in adult, cancer in children also occurs due to a chance of mutation and is not inherited most of the time. This mutation in genes then leads to uncontrolled cell growth leading to cancer. The causes of most childhood cancers are not known. About 5 percent of all cancers in children are caused by an inherited mutation (a genetic mutation that can be passed from parents to their children) Retinoblastoma which is a cancer of the eye in children is a good example of cancer caused by an inherited mutation in some children.

What are the warning signs and symptoms of childhood cancer?

Symptoms are different for different types of cancer. There are some threatening signs requiring evaluation for cancer.

Any unexplained fever, loss of weight and appetite, paleness, fatigue, easy bruising, or bleeding.

Lump or swelling over abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, Lymph glands.

Pain in bones, joints, back and easy fractures.

White spot in the eye, new squint, blindness, bulging eyeball.

In all the above signs and symptoms, first of all, we have to rule out common causes like infections then only we should proceed for evaluation for cancer.

Who should treat my child and what are treatment options?

Paediatric cancers are not always treated like adult cancers because their biology and psychology are different from adults. Most childhood cancers are fast growing and also very sensitive to chemotherapy treatment.

Cancer treatment in children is usually multi-modality and may involve chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and haematopoietic stem cell or bone marrow transplant in various combinations. These are all very specialized treatments requiring special infrastructure and expertise include paediatric oncologists/haematologists, paediatric surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, a paediatric intensivist, different paediatric subspecialties, paediatric nurse specialists, social workers and psychologists under the same roof. The exact treatment in each individual case depends on the type of cancer and its stage and often on where it is located (for solid tumours).

What precautions does a child have to take during and after completion of treatment?

As the treatment is often long so most of the time they will be at home and need extra care which includes good hygiene and balanced nutrition. They can eat whatever is hygienic and well-cooked at home. They can play with other family members as cancer is not contagious and does not spread. They should maintain a distance from any family member who is having flu, similar precautions what we follow for COVID 19 infection. In case of fever, they have to inform and come to the emergency immediately.

A child after completing treatment for cancer is normal like any other child, he can go to school and play. They will receive their routine vaccination which was stopped during therapy.  It’s essential for childhood cancer survivors to receive follow-up care at regular interval to monitor their growth and health after completing treatment.

Paediatric cancers are curable, and they are as important as other common paediatric problems like malnutrition, diarrhoea, dengue, malaria for which we work so hard. It is generally not possible to prevent cancer in children, the most effective strategy to reduce the burden of cancer in children is to focus on a prompt and correct diagnosis followed by effective therapy.

Also Read:  Reduce fatigue with this easy yoga routine suggested by grandmaster Akshar

Anonymous 2 months ago

it is well worth for the cancer and non cancer society let's keep the spirits of good health and care of our children