To mark May as Child Month, much emphasis has been placed on protecting, caring and nurturing our children. Some specific issues that come to the fore during this period are primary education, child abuse and other offenses against children, the need for family support and proper healthcare. Often times, however, the issue of Childhood Cancers are not given enough attention as a health concern facing our children. Although the incidence of Childhood Cancers is reportedly low, the Jamaica Cancer Society believes that cancer in children requires much attention.
According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2009 report, an estimated 10,730 new cases of Childhood Cancers are expected to occur among children age 10 to 14 years in 2009. The report further states that about one-third of the 1,380 deaths expected to occur among children 0-14 years in 2009, will result from leukaemia.
In Jamaica, the leading sites for the incidence of childhood cancers are: leukaemia, lymphoma, brain, soft tissue and renal cancers. Leukaemia is the leading cancer site for both male and female children between 0-14 years. The West Indian Medical Journal reports that the incidence in Kingston and St. Andrew alone between the period 1998-2002 were 35 male and 35 female cases of childhood cancers.
In second photo - Carol Blair, Administrative Director, Jamaica Cancer Society hands this young boy from the Bustamante Children's Hospital a gift.
The Jamaica Cancer Society’s theme this year to promote prevention is 'Early Detection is the Best Protection'. This simple message rings true for both adult cancers as well as childhood cancers. The symptoms of childhood cancers are usually nonspecific. We therefore encourage parents, guardians, or caregivers to ensure that children have regular check-ups at the doctor. Parents or those who provide care for children must be attentive and alert to any unusual symptoms that persist such as: loss of energy; a persistent, localized pain; prolonged, unexplained fever; frequent headaches often with vomiting; sudden eye or vision changes and excessive rapid weight loss.
Theme for Child Month
“Preserve the Environment, Protect our Children,” the theme for Child Month speaks volume, especially at this time when both locally and internationally, issues relating to our environment such as tobacco smoking and second-hand smoking are major health concerns. Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of several types of cancers and other prevalent chronic diseases world-wide.
The Jamaica Cancer Society as an advocate for a smoke-free environment continues to make a call for action not only for parents or immediate care givers of children but also from our policymakers and legislators. We owe our nation’s children an opportunity for a safe and healthy environment. Let us all do our part in preserving and protecting our children as we work together “to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Jamaica.”
In photo - Carol Blair, Administrative Director, Jamaica Cancer Society listens attentively to the grandmother of a cancer patient at the Bustamante Hospital during a recent visit.