AU Watch

 Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (South Africa)

1 to 30 September

September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Although childhood cancer is relatively rare, the incidence rate has been increasing. According to a 2014 report by the American Cancer Society, it is now estimated that one in 408 children worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15. Yet with early detection and treatment in paediatric oncology units, globally the survival rate can be as high as between 70% and 80%, with variance depending on the type of cancer.

Despite being relatively rare, in Western countries childhood cancer is the second most common cause of death in children aged 5 to 14 years, after accidents. In Africa it does not make it into the top 10 common causes.

It is estimated that currently less than half of children with cancer in South Africa are diagnosed, and many of those who are diagnosed are in advanced stage of illness. One of the reasons for this is a lack of awareness and knowledge in parts of the health system regarding the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

As a result, the Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC) initiated an Awareness Programme to disseminate the early warning signs that the South African Childhood Cancer Study Group drew up.