Paediatrician at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Hilda Boye, is cautioning parents to report any signs related to childhood cancer early to the hospital or risk losing their children.
Speaking on Nyinsen Ne Awuor on Adom FM, Doctor Hilda Boye revealed that the Child Health Department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital sees at least one child with a new diagnosis of cancer almost every week and unfortunately many parents report the incidence quite late.
She said children with cancer may have prolonged fever, change in behaviour, deteriorating academic performance, change in walking, weight loss, and for some, the eye may look like a ‘cats eye’ in the case of eye cancer.
She also noted that the delay in seeking help in some cases occurs when parents go to their pastors, fetish priests or attempt to do self-medication before going to the hospital.
She said reporting early and having early treatment increases the chances of survival.
Dr Boye noted that it is difficult to tell the exact cause of childhood cancer, however, radiation from electronic gadgets like mobile phones and microwave ovens etc, chemicals, infections like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B as well as some genetic factors have been associated with childhood cancer.
According to her, cancer can occur at any age during childhood and types include brain cancer, lymphoma, Retinoblastoma or cancer of the eye, Burkitt lymphoma or cancer on the jaw, leukaemia or cancer of the blood and Wilm’s tumour, occurring in the kidney etc.
Doctor Boye noted with concern that parents, along with their children, go through a lot after their children are diagnosed with cancer because cancer treatment is expensive and many cannot afford it.
“Childhood Cancer treatment is not covered under the NHIS and so we are pleading with the government to put childhood cancer treatment on NHIS to help reduce the financial burden and the stress on such parents,” she added.
She said some health professionals have recently launched the foundation Lifeline for Childhood Cancer Ghana, an NGO which is helping to ease the financial burden on some of the parents whose wards have been diagnosed with cancer and also help create public awareness about childhood cancer.
Doctor Hilda Boye said that when children are seen early in hospital, treatment is initiated early to save the children and encouraged parents to bring their children to the hospital early if they notice any abnormality.