Research and data exploration activity at Paras Cancer Centre highlights that cases of Leukemia and other cancers in children are on the rise. Reports also suggest that since there are fewer treatment centres in Bihar for cancer, the detection, treatment and the management of the cancers is delayed or misdiagnosed leading to complications.Dr Avinash Kumar, Consultant Hemato-Oncology, Paras Cancer Centre Patna – the 1st hematologist in Bihar highlights the following aspects in an open interview:
Q1. Why do you think that the cases of Leukemia and other cancers in children are on the rise in Bihar?
We need to understand that due to environmental aspects and the ozone depletion there are a number of cancer cases. Exposure to toxic elements is also responsible for the rise in cancer cases. In Bihar on an average 80,000 cases of cancer are registered. Earlier children used to account for only 10,000 of the cases, however lately we can see the numbers rise to around 12,000-15,000. The numbers may not seem alarming, but they may surely highlight an increasing trend which can be worrisome.
Q2. How are cancers in children different from adult cancers?
Detection of cancer in children is difficult. The signs and symptoms can be combination of various cancers. Fever along with abdominal pain or loss of weight along with joint pain. The diagnosis takes time and this is also due to the fact that only 3% of the cases worldwide account for child cancers. The growth of cancer and its effect on the child’s health is fast as compared to adults. This difference in the aggression of cancer growth makes the treatment, management modality for cancer different. For instance children are very sensitive to chemotherapy, where as in adults the same works well and fine.
Q3. What are the common signs that the parents should look out for that may indicate cancer?
The most important aspect is if any abnormality persists for more than 2 weeks, it is better that you consult a super specialist. If you need to travel away from your home to a specialised centre, trust me it is best to rule out everything. This is due to fact that in children as cancer’s growth is more aggressive and fast the sooner cancer is detected the better it is. Any delay can create complications. The following are the common symptoms that may indicate that your child needs a consultation from a cancer specialist.
If your child is suffering from the following for more than 2 weeks:
- Blood in the stools or the urine
- Persistent fever along with fatigue and tiredness
- Continuous cough cold and hoarseness in the voice
- Swelling in the neck
- Any growth in the mouth that pains or feels like an ulcer
- Recurring jaundice
- Change in the size or colour of a mole
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
Q4. What are the proposed treatments for the cancers found in children?
As discussed the treatment depends on the type of cancer, its location and stage at the time of detection. The treatment plan also depends on the health of the child. In majority we see children suffering from leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma the most. Such cancers need a multi modality approach which may include – radiation and chemotherapy.
However one such option that can ensure that the child gets a new lease of life is Bone Marrow Transplant.
Parents should be open to all alternatives and should strictly follow the medication protocol that the cancer specialist recommends.