A Paediatric Oncology Fellow at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Dr Lily Gloria Tagoe, has asked parents and guardians to be wary of early warning signs of childhood cancer among their children and present them early for treatment.
According to her, childhood cancers were on the rise among under 15 year-olds in the country and late presentation worsened the condition and prolonged treatment, sometimes leading to death.
Speaking to the Ghanaian Times during a donation by the Mulan Smart Activity School to the Oncology Department of the hospital over the weekend, Dr Tagoedisclosed that at least 200 childhood cancer cases were recorded annually at KBTH with about 1,000 children diagnosed of one condition or the other each year, countrywide.
The most common cancers among children in Ghana, she said, were leukaemia, lymphoma, retinoblastoma and wilms’ tumour (cancer of the kidney).
Using the acronym “SILUAN” to explain some signs of childhood cancer, Dr Tagoe said the “S” meant that people “seek medical help for any persistent symptom in a child. Anything you have sought solution for and it still persists in your child should prompt you of a cancer to visit the hospital.”
“I- represents the eye, such that, if your child’s eye turns white especially at night or he/she has deviated eyes (strabismus), it should be warning sign. L, signifies lumps on any part of the body, U for unexplained prolonged symptoms, A- for aches at all times and N, for neurological problems affecting the brain, spinal cord or any behavioural changes in the child,” she noted.
The Paediatric Oncologist advised parents against resorting to herbalists, prayer camps and other unorthodox practices to treat childhood cancers.
“These habits only compound the disease and by the time they finally report at the hospital it is at an advanced stage and either difficult or either too late to treat,” she noted.
Dr Tagoe expressed hope that the enrollment of the four common childhood cancers on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) would lessen the financial burden on families and encourage them to follow through with treatment till conclusion.
She appealed to philanthropists to emulate the gesture of the School and assist the Department in its expansion project as well as other logistics needed to effectively treat patients.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mulan Smart Activity School, Thara Brigitte Mills, said the gesture formed part of the School’s corporate social responsibility to mark “health donation day” on its calendar.
She explained the department was chosen, among other reasons, to teach the students to show compassion to children living with cancer, love and care for the vulnerable in society.
“We believe that it is important to impart these traits in children while they are young so that they can have a better understanding of how to express love.
The items donated included bottles of water, toiletries, story books, study aids, a NASCO television among others.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH