September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is the gold ribbon month – marked as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; this is a time where globally, countries honour and remember children and families affected by this rare disease, and help rally awareness on the early warning signs of childhood cancer. CHOC Childhood Cancer foundation SA is encouraging all South Africans to “Go for Gold” by purchasing the gold ribbon from the online CHOC Store or nearest CHOC offices. The ribbon is to be worn throughout the month of September. This will go a long way in highlighting the disease and showing support to those battling cancer around the world. Join in the campaign to paint South Africa gold to make others aware of this disease and help our children, the future of South Africa, to have hope and fight this terrible disease.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine the types of cancers that develop in children are often different from those diagnosed in adults. Adults commonly suffer from lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer, whereas children suffer from leukaemia (cancer of the blood), brain tumours, retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye), rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of soft tissue), Ewing sarcoma (bone cancer) and many others. Childhood cancers are often the result of DNA changes in cells and unlike many cancers in adults, childhood cancers are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors, therefore no preventative measure can be taken. Early detection creates a better chance of survival.
CHOC is the only organisation in South Africa that provides nationwide physical and psychosocial support to children with cancer and other life-threatening blood disorders – and their families. The organisation, which has a head office, six regional offices and twelve accommodation facilities, also supports the specialist treatment facilities in academic hospitals, promotes early detection and place a leading advocacy role.
Globally, for a rare disease, childhood cancer is on the rise. New estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) show that the global occurrence of childhood cancer is higher than previously assessed. Worldwide, approximately 215 000 cancers are diagnosed per year in those younger than 15 years and about 85 000 cancers in those aged 15-19 years. This means globally, 300 000 parents across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economic conditions will be hearing the words “your child has cancer”.
Many childhood cancers have much higher survival rates when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, childhood cancers are sometimes overlooked or misdiagnosed because early symptoms are mistakenly attributed to more common injuries or illnesses such as constant headaches, mumps, new squint and more as stipulated in the early warning signs of childhood cancer. It is recommended that children have regular medical checkups, and that parents pay close attention to the development of any unusual symptoms and signs and learn the early warning of childhood cancer developed by the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG) and adopted by the International Society of Paediatric Oncology known as the St Siluan signs.