Diagnosis and Symptoms of Childhood Cancer
According to The Indian Council of Medical Research, the number of childhood cancers has doubled from two and a half per cent to five per cent in a decade. Out of the 50,000 cases annually reported in the country, only one in ten children receive timely diagnostic and medical attention. Additionally, cure rates for fatal cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma are found to be an appalling 30 per cent, as compared to 80 per cent in developed countries!
It is important for each of us to understand that paediatric oncology includes blood cancer, cancer of the lymph nodes, cancer of the brain and spinal cord, kidneys, tissues and also the other organs. Furthermore, cancer in children has certain typical symptoms. So, on noticing these symptoms, parents and caregivers should get certain tests done so that the child can receive timely medical intervention.
Symptoms Of Childhood Cancer
Some of the symptoms as explained acronymically by The Paediatric Oncology Resource Centre are as follows:
- Continual loss of weight
- Headaches coupled with vomiting, especially early in the morning
- Increasing pain and swelling of the legs, back and other bones of the body
- Lumps in the neck, chest, abdomen, armpits or pelvic area
- Development of rashes or bruising on the body
- Constant and frequent contraction of infections
- A whitish colour in and behind the pupils
- Nausea that is persistent
- Constant fatigue or paleness
- Eye issues and problems with vision
- Recurring and persistent fever
When such symptoms recur, immediate medical help should be sought. There are multiple diagnostic tests that the doctor will suggest, based on factors such as the type of cancer suspected, the symptoms, the child’s age and medical history. Imaging tests are used to locate the cancer and understand if the malignancies are spreading to any other organs.
Once imaging tests confirm the persistence of a lump of mass, the doctors may advise the patient to undergo a biopsy, since not all lumps are cancerous. As per a biopsy, the pathologist will take a part of the lump to examine it. Therefore, biopsy is the only credible way of understanding if the patient has cancer.
The persistent misconception in India is that children cannot be affected by cancers. However, the fact is cancer can affect despite age and medical history. But when it comes to paediatric oncology, parents and caretakers determine if a child receives timely diagnosis and treatment.