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Cancer Cases Among Kids Rising

Times of India
06 December 2010
Nagpur, India

Dreaded diseases, previously associated only with adults, are increasingly seen among children too. The 'Big C' is no exception. The number of children with cancer seems to be increasing by the day. Yet, a ray of hope is the fact that in most cases these can be completely cured.

Though medicos concur that more cases are being diagnosed these days none of them feels this shows that the incidences are on the rise. Advanced medical amenities and increased levels of awareness are responsible for the trend, they say.

Dr Rashmi Dalvi, national president of Paediatric Hemato Oncology of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, stressed that cancer is not a death sentence. She said that almost 70% of all kinds of cancer prevalent among children can be cured with timely detection.

Dr Shailesh Kanvinde of Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital, Pune, however, rues the fact that despite the advancement in treatments available there is not much awareness within the medical fraternity. He also disagreed that many parents do not get their children treated for the disease fearing side effects.

"The number of incidences where such side effects have been observed is very low, so the treatment is not all that risky as it is made up to be," he said. Though several researchers have concluded various kinds of risks to the survivors of childhood cancer, most doctors disagree.

City based oncologist Dr Anand Pathak said, "There are many people who have survived childhood cancer and leading a normal life as adults." He pointed out that recurrence of this disease among childhood cancer survivors is very low.

"In rare cases the disease comes back but never affects the same organ as before," he added. He opined that each child is treated with the aim of complete cure, keeping in mind the long-term side effects of treatments that include internal organs' damage and endocrine disorders.

Enumerating the possible causes of cancer among children, Dr Purna Kurkure, incharge of Paediatric Oncology Division at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai said, "Unlike cancer among adults which can be attributed to lifestyle and habits, childhood cancer is more complicated. Most cancers can be said to be a result of genetic mutations though they are not hereditary.

One of them is lymphoma (cancer that begins in cells of the immune system) which is a result of mutations caused by a virus." A malignant tumour of retina (a thin membrane in the back of the eye) is an example of hereditarily acquired cancer.

The most common type of cancer found in children is leukemia or blood cancer. This is followed by those affecting organs like brain, soft tissues of the bones, central nervous system and bones.

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