As Childhood Cancer Awareness Month approaches, the illness remains one of the leading causes of death among children and adolescents globally, with around 280,000 youngsters aged 0-19 diagnosed every year. These statistics underscore the need for swift and comprehensive action, which makes supporting and furthering the efforts of organisations like the UAE-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) – which has been spearheading initiatives that spotlight this urgent issue – more vital than ever before.
Community heroes leading FoCP’s fight against childhood cancer
Under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Founder and patron of FoCP, the civil society organisation has supported 8 paediatric cancer patients and their families with financial and moral support since the beginning of the year. The entity has also heightened awareness in parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals of the risks and symptoms of common childhood cancers through awareness lectures, events and workshops.
These successful efforts of FoCP have been consistently supported by public and private organisations as well as individuals residing in the UAE and abroad. While much has been accomplished in terms of both awareness creation and treatment support, a lot more needs to be done to continue empowering the community and safeguarding young children against this difficult illness.
As a not-for-profit entity, the scale and magnitude of FoCP’s efforts continued to be determined by the charity of individual and organisational donors. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month brings a unique opportunity to do good for young members of the UAE community who are battling cancer; and to give them and their families the strength and hope for the possibility of a healthy and bright future.
Those who wish to support this cause, please visit https://www.focp.ae/our-programs/child-health/ for more information.
In the battle against childhood cancer, every second counts
Aisha Al Mulla, Director of FoCP, commented on the organisation’s commitment, saying, “Time is one of the most crucial factors when dealing with cancer in general, and childhood cancer in particular. Every second counts and every effort made makes a difference. Therefore, increasing awareness about the importance of early detection is vital to combat this disease and increase the recovery rate and we work diligently to offer guidance and assistance at every step of the treatment journey.”
Identifying possible symptoms and taking decisive action
Research has revealed the existence of 12 types of cancer that affect children, with the most widespread of which are blood cancer (leukaemia), brain cancer, lymphoma, and bone cancer, which has a higher incidence rate during adolescence. Moreover, the risk of cancer in infants is higher compared to their older peers.
Every concerned parent or caregiver is urged to discuss any changes in their child’s health with a family doctor, who can guide them through the process of diagnosis and potential treatment.
The acronym “C.H.I.L.D.C.A.N.C.E.R.” encapsulates the key symptoms that demand attention and below we have outlined what parents and caregivers should look out for:
Diagnosing childhood cancer involves a combination of physical exams, imaging tests, and biopsies to identify the type and extent of the disease. Treatment approaches vary depending on the cancer type, but they usually include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. This multidisciplinary treatment approach aims to ensure the best possible outcomes while prioritising the child’s overall well-being and quality of life.
Safety begins at home
While the causes of childhood cancer can be complex and sometimes unavoidable, there are certain proactive steps parents can take to potentially reduce the risk in their children. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and avoiding heavily processed foods, regular physical activity, and sufficient rest can contribute to overall well-being. Avoiding exposure to harmful environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and excessive sunlight, can also play a role in minimising risks.
There are also steps parents can take before the birth of their children, ensuring a healthy pregnancy and maintaining parental well-being before conception can positively influence a child’s overall health and potentially reduce the risk of childhood cancer. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent childhood cancer, these measures can collectively contribute to promoting a healthier environment for a child’s growth and development.
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