September childhood cancer awareness month

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Childhood is a time where children desire and dream of endless possibilities, but for children who suffer from cancer is a battle for their lives. They face it with unflinching courage and acceptance of their circumstances. The impact of having a child diagnosed with cancer is deeply felt by the entire family.

Childhood cancer may also be called pediatric cancer.  Pediatric oncology is a general term used to describe cancer in the early stage of life, randomly and sparing no ethnic group, socioeconomic class or geographic region. Childhoodcancer extends to over various types of cancers and a countless amount of subtypes. Childhood cancer is a relatively rare disease, and most cases occur in the low- and middle-income countries where nearly 90% of the world’s children live.

Cancer in children can occur anywhere in the body, including the blood and lymph node systems, brain and spinal cord, kidneys and other organs.   Cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Normally, a strong human's immune system immediately recognizes deformed cells in the body and destroys them before they divide, but some mutated cells survive the immune system's vision and become cancerous while they are still alive.

There is an increasing amount of research regarding cancer in children. Since these children are starting to enter young adulthood, they may have unique medical, social, and emotional needs that are different from younger children with cancer. They are part of a group often called adolescents and young adults.

September is the month known as Child Cancer Month all over the world.  Its purpose is to create awareness in the community and raise funds for cancer victims. In 1997, a group of parents of children impacted by cancer chose gold to represent childhood cancer. Thus, the gold ribbon! Ever since then, supporters around the world Go Gold to represent childhood cancer warriors and heroes. The colour gold symbolizes how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes. 

There are 700 children (under 18) diagnosed with cancer every day in the world. In developed countries, the survival rate has reached 80% to 90%.  In developing and underdeveloped countries, however, Cancer mortality is multiple times higher, because of the high prevalence of pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea, sepsis in these countries, the emphasis isn't on cancer.  Also, late diagnosis, specialist availability, cost of treatment are the underlying causes.

Although the causes of childhood cancer have not yet been discovered, some cancers are associated with virus infections like Burkitt's lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma.  Public health measures to reduce these infectious diseases will also lower childhood cancer mortality. Leukaemia, brain tumour and lymphoma are the most common cancer in children.

Each cancer requires a specific combination of modalities and a defined treatment protocol feasible in the patient’s environment. Ideally, a multidisciplinary team includes a paediatrician, pediatric oncologist, surgeon, radiologist, radiotherapist, pathologist, nurses, social workers, and providers of psychological and spiritual support. Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy are the basic treatments for cancer.  This treatment is determined by the type and stage of cancer.  There are new treatments available on Steam Cell Therapy and Immunotherapy on Cancer.

Immunotherapy involves the fight against cancer by increasing a person's immunity. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body’s natural defences to fight cancer. Due to advances in treatment and technology, the survival rate of cancer survivors has generally increased to 80 % - 90%. Advocacy and education of health workers on the early warning signs of childhood cancer will promote early referral and early diagnosis, which are essential to improve survival.

Although the pervasiveness of cancer among young children is low, the mortality rate is high, that is why awareness and research are needed.  If the measures are taken to create hope among the parents, to be informed and availability of various treatments, to be diagnosed in a timely manner, to train the staff, the participation of social organization for the expenditure, then we can help the kid to win the battle against cancer.