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Childhood cancer is a growing problem in India. According to the Indian Cancer Society, approximately 40,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the country every year. The lack of awareness among parents often results in late-stage diagnoses, which decrease the chances of successful treatment. Childhood cancer can be cured if detected and treated early, making awareness among parents a critical factor in saving young lives.

Raising awareness about childhood cancer among parents is a critical step toward ensuring early diagnosis, effective treatment, and emotional support for affected children and their families.

Childhood cancers are diseases where some cells in a child's body start growing out of control. There are several types of childhood cancers, and the most common ones are leukemias or blood cancers. Others are brain tumors, neuroblastomas, Wilmstumors, lymphomas, retinoblastomas, and bone tumors.

Suspecting cancer in children can be a worrying thought, but it's important to be aware of potential signs while also keeping in mind that most health problems are not cancer. Here are some simple signs that might make you suspect cancer in a child:

  • Unusual Lumps or Bumps: If you notice a strange lump or bump anywhere on the body, especially if it doesn't go away, it's a reason to think about seeing a doctor.
  • Frequent or Unexplained Fevers: If your child keeps getting fevers that don't have a clear reason, it's a sign to pay attention to.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: If your child is losing weight without trying, it's something to be concerned about.
  • Persistent Pain: If your child has pain that doesn't go away, especially if it's severe and has no clear cause, it's a reason to seek medical help.
  • Changes in How They Feel: If your child often feels very tired or just not like themselves, it's worth talking to a doctor.
  • Changes in How They Look: Keep an eye out for changes in their eyes, like a white glow or spots. Also, watch for changes in the way their eyes look in photos. Changes in their appearance, like paleness or yellow skin, can also be a reason to be suspicious.
  • Unusual Bruising or Bleeding: If your child has a lot of bruises or bleeding, especially if it's hard to stop, you should see a doctor.
  • Constant Headaches: If your child frequently complains of headaches, especially if they vomit or have other problems with their head, it's a sign to take seriously.
  • Frequent Infections: If your child keeps getting sick with infections, it might be a sign that their immune system is not working well.
  • Family History: If there's a history of cancer in your family or if your child has been around things that can cause cancer, like radiation or certain chemicals, you should let the doctor know.

Remember, these signs can be caused by many things other than cancer, and most children with these symptoms don't have cancer. But it's always better to be safe and talk to a doctor if you're worried. They can help figure out what's going on and provide the right care for your child. Your child's health is important, and it's okay to ask for help if you're concerned.

The Importance of Parental Awareness : 

  • Early Detection: Recognizing the early signs and symptoms can make a significant difference in the outcome. Awareness can help parents identify these signs and seek medical attention promptly.
  • Access to Information: Many parents lack access to information about childhood cancer. There are various types of paediatric cancers, available treatments, or support organizations. Empowering parents with knowledge can help them make informed decisions.
  • Reducing Stigma: In India, there is often a stigma associated with a cancer diagnosis. Many parents are hesitant to discuss their child's illness openly, which can result in delayed treatment and emotional distress.
  • Support for Families: Childhood cancer can be emotionally and financially draining for families. Awareness programs can connect parents with support groups, financial aid, and counselling services, helping them navigate the challenging journey.

Note that most childhood cancers are curable. An early diagnosis and appropriate treatment helps in a major way to treat the child. The doctors and nurses are like a big team working to help the child get better. They make sure the treatment isn't too hard, and they're always there to answer questions and give support. The most important thing is to help the child stay strong and fight cancer, just like superheroes! Let not a child be denied its right to live a disease-free childhood for lack of awareness. Feel free to consult your doctor at the earliest.

About the author : 

Dr. Chandana Pai, a Paediatric Hematologist Oncologist from Father Muller Medical College Hospital in Mangaluru, draws upon her extensive medical journey, having pursued her MBBS at Basaveshwara Medical College, Chitradurga, DNB Pediatrics at S S Institute of Medical Sciences, Davanagere, and FPHO at KMC, Manipal. To foster awareness and support, she invites readers to connect with her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through phone at 7353943677.


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