Early diagnosis helps ‘cure cancer among children’

Kathmandu, February 21

Early diagnosis of cancer in children is helpful in treatment of the disease, says a doctor.

“Early diagnosis and treatment helps children live longer, with fewer health complications,” said Dr Sudhir Sapkota, consultant paediatrician, paediatric haematologist and oncologist at Kanti Children’s Hospital.

Children are found to be suffering from leukaemia, retinoblastoma — eye cancer and wilms tumour — kidney cancer, among other types of cancers.

Data maintained by the hospital showed diagnosis of 141 cases of paediatric cancer and more than 300 new cases were reported by haematology out patient department in 2018-19. There were 61 new cases registered in the hospital’s oncology ward in 2017-2018. According to Sapkota, pollution, radiation, use of insecticides and pesticides are some of the causes for cancer in children.

Fever lasting for a longer time, increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back or legs, appearance of lump or mass in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits are some of the symptoms of cancer. Headaches and vomiting, too, are symptoms of cancer. If a child shows such signs and symptoms then it is necessary to take him/her to the hospital, said the doctor.

Though treatment service is free in the government-run Kanti Children’s Hospital, patients discontinue their treatment.

As per the hospital’s report, 32 children suffering from cancer discontinued their treatment in 2018-19. “Though treatment is free here, the cost of living in a city for the patient’s family is high. Other costs accumulate as well. Patient’s family has to bear other expenses as well, such as transportation cost, cost of living and medicines. That is why they abandon treatment. Treatment procedure is long,” said Dr Sapkota.

The doctor also said treatment of cancers in children has high success rates than in adults as children usually do not have any other diseases. Kanti Children’s Hospital runs 26-bed inpatient ward and eight bed daycare centre. To help prevent cancer in children, women should avoid alcohol and smoking during their pregnancy, the doctor said.