About 1,000 children cancer cases recorded annually in Ghana

Dr Lorna Awo Renner, Consulting Paediatrician at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on Friday said about 1,000 cases of childhood cancer cases were recorded annually in Ghana.

Globally, 250,000 childhood cancers are recorded annually.

She noted that an age-standardized rate of 109.5 cases per 100,000 persons, due to financial constrains for treatment as well as purchasing drugs.

Cancer is a disease characterised by out-of-control cell growth.

It harms the body through damaging cells – divide the cells uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumours (except leukemia where cancer prohibits normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood stream).

The symptoms include whitish colour behind the pupil, vomiting, and paleness lumps in the abdomen.

Dr Renner announced this at a press conference organised by Ghana Parent’s Association for Childhood Cancer (GHAPACC) in Accra.

It was to create awareness about hope for patients diagnosed with cancer in advanced stage of treatment involving radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, hormonal therapy or combination of these.

Dr Renner said the real concern was that, most parents reported late with their children to health facilities with advanced cancer cases when it was incurable and eventually end up in death.

“It is not surprising therefore that only 25 per cent of patients with cancer survived beyond five years after diagnosis,” she added.

Dr Renner said, about 30 per cent of children with cancer in developing countries received treatment and over 100,000 deaths from childhood cancer worldwide could be prevented annually if all children had equal access to diagnosis and treatment.

She said Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital were the only places where cancer could be treated and called for more centres as well as experts to help to curb the disease.

According to her, Ghana has only three paediatrician oncology medical practitioners without trained paediatrician nurses.

Dr Renner suggested that childhood cancer care should be included in the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Dr Felix Kwame Aveh, President of GHAPACC said, cost of cancer drugs were too expensive for some parents and therefore relied on traditional medicine, healing camps and self-medication eventually leading to death of their children.

He announced that about 16 million new cases were expected globally by 2020 with 70 per cent occurring in developing countries.

Dr Aveh advised parents to seek medical care early for persistent symptoms, adding that “cancer can affect babies yet to be born”.

He appealed to government and corporate institutions to assist GHAPACC to construct a hostel to accommodate parents who travelled far from the two teaching hospitals for treatment for their children with cancer.

Mrs Marian Opoku, Treasurer of GHAPACC said, it was established to contribute to health care needs of children with cancer and other life threatening blood disorders.

She said members visited health institutions regularly to interact with children, their parents and assist them financially.

Source: GNA

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