By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Researchers and doctors throughout the world have now focused their attention on childhood cancer which is rapidly expanding in both developed and developing nations.
In India alone as many as 1.60 lakh new cancer child-patients are added to the existing list every year and of them nearly a lakh succumb to the dangerous disease. While Western nations maintain statistics on cancer with a particular emphasis on cancer in children, unfortunately in India neither the Indian Council of Medical Research nor the Indian Medical Association have ever bothered to conduct a full-fledged survey of the problem.
Oncologists and doctors have selected the theme, "My Child Matters", giving emphasis on childhood cancers this World Cancer Day being observed on February 4. Cancer specialists in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh have decided to take up awareness campaign among parents and in schoolchildren telling them about the steps to be taken to prevent cancers, and in case cancer strikes the steps to be followed to escape death.
"Childhood cancer refers to all cancers in children aged 14 and under. Unfortunately, information on the occurrence of childhood cancer in developing countries like India is largely inadequate. More population-based cancer registries are needed to measure the real number of children with cancer," argues Dr Vijay Anand P Reddy, director of Apollo Cancer Hospital.
The common childhood cancers include leukaemia, lymphomas, central nervous system tumours, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, renal cancer, bone tumours and soft tissue sarcomas. Although there are different types of cancer, at least 85 per cent of all childhood cancers have similar signs and symptoms.
Explaining the symptoms of cancer, Dr Vijay Anand says, the main warning signs include continued, unexplained weight loss and fever, pallor, headaches with early morning vomiting, unusual swelling and abdominal mass, swollen head, development of excessive bruising or bleeding, white glow in the eye, and sudden changes in balance or behaviour. "Since most of the symptoms of cancer can be interpreted as common child ailments, parents should insist, where possible, that physicians carry out tests to rule out cancer," he suggests.
Childhood cancer is more than twice as curable as all adult cancers and it is vitally important that childhood cancer is detected early and that access to treatment is improved. Although childhood cancers represent a small percentage of all cancers, most of them can be cured if prompt and essential treatment is accessible. About 80 per cent of children with cancer live in developing countries with a survival rate below 50 per cent. However, the survival rate in developed nations is more than 80 per cent.
Dr Mukesh Batra, chairman-cum managing director of Dr Batras’ Positive Health Clinic, says globally more than 10 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and it is estimated that there will be 15 million new cases every year by 2020.
"Cancer causes six million deaths every year, 12% of deaths world-wide. In the developed countries cancer is the second leading cause of death accounting for 21 per cent (2.5 million) of all mortality. In the developing countries cancer ranks third as a cause of death and accounts for 9.5 per cent (3.8 million) of all deaths. Tobacco alcohol, infections and hormones contribute towards occurrence of common cancers all over the world," Dr Batra observes.
In India cancer has become one of the 10 leading causes of death. It is estimated that there are nearly 15 lakhs to 20 lakhs cancer cases at any given point of time. Over seven lakh new cases of cancer and three lakh deaths occur annually due to cancer.
"In reality, cancer cure exists and many cases of cancer have been successfully reversed. The answers might not be only found in drugs, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, although, in certain cases they are useful. Statistics show that the most successful recipe to cancer cure is the synergistic approach, combining a holistic lifestyle with different natural treatments," says Dr Batra.
An arsenal consisting of a diet rich in raw organic foods and juices, regular exercise, therapeutic doses of antioxidants and other natural supplements, regular detoxification, a healthy emotional state through counselling and meditation can dramatically increase the chances of combating and reversing cancer.
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