By Justina Auta
Some medical experts on Thursday advised parents on early detection, complete treatment and compliance to medical advice to improve survival rates for children suffering from cancer.
The experts gave the advice during a zoom meeting organised by the Psycho-Oncology Society of Nigeria (POSON), with the theme: “Childhood Cancer: What Every Parents Should Know.’’
WHO states that approximately 400,000 children and adolescents below the age of 19 years are diagnosed with cancers annually with the common types to include leukaemia (cancer of the blood), brain cancer, lymphomas and solid tumours.
Prof. Biobele Brown, Consultant Paediatric Haematology/Oncology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, said the survival rates of children suffering from cancers were high with early medical intervention, adherence to medical advice and complete treatment.
Brown described cancer as a tumour which spreads in the body, usually leading to swelling or unusual lumps that were not caused by any injury.
“Some parents when they see any swelling in their child’s body, they assume it is an injury resulting from a fall.
“It is safer not to assume that all swellings are caused by injury; it is better to take the child to the hospital for proper diagnosis,’’ he said.
He also advised parents to be on the lookout for any abnormal bleeding or easy bruising, frequent drop in blood level and rapid weight loss for medical evaluation and treatment of any ailments that might be diagnosed.
According to him, some children die as a result of cancer because of lack or delayed diagnosis, incomplete or abandoned treatment or pursuit of healing through religious interventions.
“The reason why some children die of cancer is not because drugs are not available or the disease was not detected early, it is because some parents stop treatment halfway when they notice that the child’s health has improved.
“If cancer treatments are not completed, the disease comes back in full force and it becomes more difficult to handle,’’ he stressed.
He also stressed the need for parents, whose children were suffering from cancer to keep their environment free of infections because of the patient’s reduced immunity and should also provide psychological support to the children.
Brown also emphasised on the need to train parents and caregivers on appropriate drugs and dosage to be administered to the children, adequate nutritional value and how to manage the children, especially in severe cases.
While commending government for including some cancer drugs in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), he appealed for more support to reduce the financial burden on parents and provision of adequate medical facilities.
On her part, the meeting’s host and President, POSON, Dr Elizabeth Akin-Odanye, stressed the need for more awareness on childhood cancers to enable people to identify signs and symptoms as well as to seek appropriate treatment.
“We don’t hear enough about childhood cancers; the pain involved in the care and treatment, especially for the children and their parents,’’ she noted.
Akin-Odanye, while reiterating the commitment of the organisation to create more awareness on childhood cancers, appealed for more support to be able to address the affliction. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)