Childhood cancers are cancers affecting children below the age of 18. Over 300,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer, worldwide, each year. The most common type of childhood cancer is Leukaemia and others include cancers of the brain or central nervous system and cancer of the bone marrow.
Only about 20% of children from low income countries get the treatment they need for cancer due to lack of access to cancer treatment and the high expenses that come with getting cancer treatment.
How can childhood cancers be prevented?
Though there is no specific way to prevent cancer, there are ways through which parents or guardians can reduce the risks of their children developing cancer. Here are some ways to reduce your child’s cancer risk:
- Avoiding or limiting their exposure to toxic chemicals: It is not only industrial chemicals that qualify for this, even indoor pesticides like garden sprays and flea sprays have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma. If you are exposed to certain chemicals in your work place, ensure you wear the appropriate safety gear and do not bring them home because they may carry with them cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and asbestos.
- Not smoking: Tobacco is a risk factor for a number of cancers such as lung, leukaemia and throat cancer, therefore, you must not smoke around your kids or let someone else do so. Second hand smoke increases cancer risk by 25% and by smoking or letting other people smoke near your children, you will be doing them much harm.
- Protecting the children from sunburn: The sun is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Do not expose your child to direct sunlight, especially during peak sun strength hours. During such times you should ensure that your child wears a hat, sunglasses and clothes that cover their arms and other parts that are most likely to be exposed to direct sunlight or you can have them play under a shade.
- Ensuring they have a healthy diet: Diet has a big part to play in a child’s general health because it highly affects their immunity. Instead of processed foods, foods high in fats, sugars and salts, all of which increase cancer risk, feed your children with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Ensuring they keep a healthy body weight: Being overweight or obese increases a child’s risk of cancers such as oesophageal and liver cancer. Childhood obesity is a huge issue, having more than tripled in the past 30 years. This is due to the high intake of processed, fatty and sugary foods together with many children having little physical activity because they spend so much time in front of the television. The fatty tissue in the body influences how cells grow, and the overgrowth of cells is what leads to cancer. By ensuring your child is at the right weight relative to their age, you reduce their risk of certain cancers.
- Encouraging physical activity: Physical activity is very important for your child. Instead of watching television or playing video games, ensure your child is engaging in more physical activity. You can for instance, let them join sports in school, allow them to play with other children when at home and buy them toys like kites, balls and skipping ropes, that keep them engaged physically. Being active stabilizes insulin levels reducing the risk of cancers like that of the bowel.
- Vaccination: Certain infections such as HPV can increase the risk of a child getting certain cancers like cervical and throat cancer, in the future. Ensure that your child gets immunised against the human papilloma virus (HPV) and prevent your child from other infections like Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) which in rare cases can lead to the development of cancer.
Even though it may be difficult to prevent your child from developing cancer, these are steps you can take to reduce your child’s risk of getting cancer. If your child unfortunately develops cancer, International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) is here to assist you get high quality medical treatment overseas in some of the best hospitals in India, Thailand, the UAE and Turkey.
Contact IMT today to find out how we can be of help to you to find affordable, world class, medical treatment in one of our partner hospitals overseas.