Tawam Hospital raises awareness on cancer amongst children

Thursday 18 February 2016
Muhammad Saghir

Al ain - MENA Herald: Tawam Hospital, in affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine and part of the SEHA healthcare system, is observing the International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) in its efforts to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. The hospital is calling on healthcare professionals, caregivers and parents to be more aware of cancer symptoms that could already be affecting children or adolescents.
ICCD is celebrated every year to celebrate the strength, courage and resiliency of children with cancer and their families. During this day, the world’s leading stakeholders for childhood cancers including International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) and Childhood Cancer International (CCI; formally ICCCPO) launch global cancer awareness activities to highlight the need for equal and better access to childhood cancer care for children everywhere. ICCD also promotes increased appreciation and deeper understanding of issues and challenges faced by children or adolescents with cancer, the survivors, their families and society.
With the theme, “Yes, we can! Childhood cancer can be beaten” Tawam Hospital aims to educate health care professionals regarding early warning signs of childhood cancer, create public awareness about potential curability of childhood cancers and educate the caregivers of childhood cancer patients about the difficulties during cancer therapy.

Childhood cancers generally differ from adult cancers regarding their potential for curability. According to the most recent world-wide estimates, more than 250,000 children are diagnosed annually with cancer and about 90,000 of those die from their disease. This number is staggering especially since 70% of all childhood cancers are curable. In advanced and developed countries, some childhood cancer even achieve up to 95% of cure rate with the availability of modern diagnostic and therapeutic facilities.

Unfortunately to most, the outcome for cancer becomes bleak if there are delays in presentation or referral and turns a large number of potentially curable cancers into incurable disease.

The major obstacles in cancer treatment internationally includes lack of public awareness about cancer, low index of suspicion for cancer by treating physicians, availability of medicines, high cost of treatment, lack of trained professionals, very few dedicated cancer centres and unsatisfactory supportive care facilities.

“Children or adolescents who are diagnosed and referred to us with early stages of cancer are very much curable with an excellent long term survival. Here at Tawam Hospital, we have available state of the art multi-disciplinary diagnostic and treatment facilities. However, we still encounter a lot of challenges in treating childhood cancers because of late diagnosis. However, children who are referred to us and have been presented with late stages are always difficult to treat. This is why it is crucial for the community to know more about childhood cancer and their warning symptoms,” said Muhammad Faisal Khanani Division Chief, Hematology/Oncology at Tawam Hospital one of SEHA healthcare system entities.

Through intensified public awareness campaigns on childhood cancer, several lives can be saved. Tawam’s campaign includes distribution of materials on childhood cancer warning signs adapted from SIOP, CCI and UICC via electronic and print media.

These warning signs include: pallor, bruising or bleeding, general bone pain; lump or swelling: especially if painless and without fever or other signs of infection; unexplained weight loss or fever, persistent cough or shortness of breath and/or sweating at night; eye changes: white pupil, new onset squint, loss of vision, bruising or swelling around the eye(s); abdominal swelling; headache: especially if unusually persistent or severe, vomiting (especially early morning or worsening over days); and, limb or bone pain, swelling without prior injury or signs of infection.

“Any child who manifests the warning symptoms must be referred for further evaluation. It is also extremely pertinent to for health care providers to be better educated about early symptoms and signs of childhood cancers. They should be familiar with approach to diagnose cancers with the relevant laboratory tests and immediate care to stabilize the patient before referral to the cancer centre,” said Muhammad Saghir Specialist Physician, Hematology/Oncology atTawam Hospital one of SEHA healthcare system entities. “On this ICCD, lets us pledge to make efforts for elimination of factors responsible for the delay in diagnosing childhood cancers and prove that we can beat cancer,” Muhammad Saghir, added.

Tawam Hospital provides comprehensive medical services and is committed to advancing medical care across all areas treatment. Our oncologists are some of the best in the region and are updated in the latest and evidence-based treatment and practices in handling cancer cases,” said Abdullah Qasem Charge Nurse, PEDS Oncology Unit at Tawam Hospital one of SEHA healthcare system entities.

Tawam Hospital is part of the SEHA Health System owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) which is responsible for the curative activities of all the public hospitals and clinics of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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