According to cansa.org.za between 800 to 1000 South African Children are diagnosed with cancer every year. However, it’s estimated that half of the children with cancer in South Africa are never diagnosed. This is because there’s a lack of knowledge regarding the disease and how it presents in children. As a result, many children are diagnosed too late diminishing the possibility of successful treatment.
According to the South African Medical Journal the overall survival rates for childhood cancer in South Africa is very low compared to international data. Many childhood cancers are treatable with success rates of between 70% and 80% in well-resourced countries while the overall survuval rate for South Africa is only at 52.1%, according to a 2014 research paper.
In South Africa, we should be diagnosing around 2 500 children per annum but unfortunately are only diagnosing approximately 1 500, of the less than half who are actually detected and diagnosed, this survival rate is as low as 55%. This means that in South Africa every year, less than half of the children who are diagnosed will survive.
In September 2018, at the United Nations General Assembly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced its new global initiative to address the disparity between childhood cancer survival in low-middle versus high-income countries.
On International Childhood Cancer Day (15 February), Childhood Cancer Foundation SA (CHOC) calls on all South Africans to stand united to make childhood cancer a national and global child health priority in support of the WHO Global Childhood Cancer Target Goals.
CHOC, through its training and awareness programme aims to improve survival rates by creating awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer developed by CHOC and The South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG). This is done by training health professionals and traditional health practitioners and by creating general awareness amongst the public.
“As we celebrate our 40 years of existence this year, we want to continue growing our impact as an organisation and we continue to rely heavily on individual and corporate support and participation. As the only organisation in South Africa that provides nationwide comprehensive support to children and teenagers with cancer, life-threatening blood disorders and their families, we strive to increase our reach every year,” said Carl Queiros, CEO of CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA.
Look out for these early warning signs and symptoms of childhood cancer:
Print this chart out and keep it on your fridge or in your handbag for a quick and easy reference. While most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by an injury or an infection, it’s best to get your little one checked out right away.