Know the signs of teen cancer
Durban - It’s estimated that at least two thirds of children with cancer, including teens, never reach a specialist treatment centre and that the majority of those that do, are unfortunately in the advanced stages of their illness.
Cancers affecting younger people share general symptoms with other illnesses, which can result in a misdiagnosis and there needs to be a determined effort by government to educate parents, medical and clinic staff to be aware of symptoms.
In teens especially, the warning signs of cancer may be attributed to growing pains associated with this developmental stage, or with normal sports injuries as teens tend to be active.
The cause of most cancers affecting teens is not known. Current international data suggests 10% of teens diagnosed, may have a genetic predisposition to it and those with HIV are at higher risk for certain cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The top cancers currently affecting teens are non-Hodgkins, Hodgkins lymphomas, bone and soft tissue cancers (sarcomas), brain tumours, Kaposi sarcoma and leukaemia.
Parents and guardians need to be alert to symptoms that persist or recur repeatedly, as medical assistance should then be sought immediately.
CANSA’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Programme is aimed at educating the public on the early warning signs and in South Africa, the St Siluan Warning Signs for Childhood Cancer are used.
St Siluan Warning Signs Childhood Cancer:
S – Seek medical help early for ongoing symptoms
I – White spot in the eye, new squint, sudden blindness or bulging eyeball
L – Lump on the stomach, pelvis, head, arms, legs, testicle or glands
U – Unexplained fever present for over two weeks, weight loss, fatigue, pale appearance, easy bruising & bleeding
A – Aching bones, joints, back and easy fractures
N – Neurological signs, a change in walk, balance or speech, regression, continuous headaches with / without vomiting & enlarged head
For more information, visit cansa.org.za