Proper Awareness Needed For Childhood Cancer

The last day of the Cancer Stakeholder meeting addressed many importance issues raised in major hospitals in the country, Port Moresby General Hospital and the Morobe Provincial Health Authority.

One of the major issues raised was addressing Childhood Cancer in the country.

Worldwide about 400, 000 children aged from zero to 18 years of age are diagnosed each year with cancer. According to PMGH, it is estimated that one in 6500 children will have cancer.

In PNG, it is estimated that there are three million children within that age and the hospital sees 500 children per year.

PMGH Paediatrician, Dr. Gwenda Anga said as per hospital reports, PMGH is not seeing over 200 children per year as this is due to many reasons.

“This is because of lack of access to a health facility, the ability of the health worker to recognize that this is possibly cancer and have that reported and referred appropriately.

“Maybe the diagnostic done are not up to date and also we’re not recording the cases that have been made,” she said.

Dr Anga stated that the common cancer seen in children is Leukemia, which is the cancer of the blood, second cancer commonly seen is lymphoma, the cancer of the lymph nodes, thirdly is Retinoblastoma, which is the cancer for the eye.

“Unlike adult cancers is mostly due to lifestyle choices like smoking and chewing betelnut, for children a lot of these causes are unknown, so in terms of awareness it would be the ability to recognize these signs.

“There’s different types of cancers we are working on having early warning sign charts, probably in Pidgin gives a few of these common signs on posters. This can be posted on clinics or in schools so at people are able to recognize signs quickly and refer them to hospitals for treatment.”

Dr. Anga said that different cancers present at different age groups, some are common from ages zero up to 5 years of age, another group of cancers that are common from 5 up to 10 and those that are common in teenagers.

She added that PMGH is just starting and will be reaching out to partners to help with the work. Once a year, the team commemorates children cancer day at the clinics and raise awareness.

Jasmine Iru