Childhood Cancer Foundation SA
The funds raised from the event go directly to an organization called CHOC. The CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA was established in 1979 by a parent group in Johannesburg. The organisation does not receive funding from government and rely heavily on donations from caring corporates, individuals and parents of children with cancer. Donations and fund raising projects like Tattoo-a-thon are therefore the lifeblood of the organisation.
The cancers that affect children are generally unique to those that affect adults and the incidence of childhood cancer is 150 in a million worldwide. In South Africa, one in 600 hundred children is affected by cancer before the age of 16. The encouraging news is that if diagnosed early, 70%-85% of children can be cured.
Types Of Cancer
The cancers that affect children most often occur in the developing cells like bone marrow, blood, kidneys and nervous system tissues. The most common cancer is leukaemia followed by brain and a wide variety of other tumours. Life-threatening blood disorders include aplastic anaemia, thalassaemia and ITP.
Types Of Treatment
Childhood cancers require specialist paediatric treatment by a paediatric oncologist and comprise of chemotherapy, surgery or radiation. In some cases a combination of these treatments is used while bone marrow or stem cell transplantation is done in certain situations.
The South African Situation
In South Africa, less than half of the children are diagnosed early enough and reach a treatment centre in time. Many are diagnosed too late with an advanced stage of cancer for the treatment to have much chance of success and half are never diagnosed and so receive no treatment.
As a result, we strongly advocate and encourage all efforts that lead to the early detection of childhood cancer. As, with early detection, the prognosis for cure is very positive.
In South Africa, very few children receive effective treatment because they are diagnosed at such a late stage, if they are diagnosed at all. Fortunately, there are excellent treatment centres that achieve results comparable to hospitals in North America and Europe for similar stages of diagnosis.
The South African Children’s Cancer Study Group (SACCSG), together with CHOC and all the specialist paediatric oncologists in our country, has prepared a set of Warning Signs to help improve early diagnosis.
• Eye: White spot in the eye, new squint, new blindness, bulging eyeball
• Lump: Abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands
• Unexplained: Prolonged fever over two weeks, loss of weight , pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
• Aching: Bones, joints, back and easy fractures
• Neurological: Change or deterioration in walk, balance or speech, regression of milestones, headache for more than a week with or without vomiting, enlarging head.
For more information, or for the contact details of a CHOC office in your area, call 086 111 3500 or refer to their website: www.choc.org.za