2011 Blog
Childhood Cancer
24 February 2011
The number of children with cancer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, aged 0–14 years has reached 573 cases, where 41.7% of the Saudi population are under the age of 15 years. Moreover, the incidence of childhood cancer is higher among males than females (according to Saudi Cancer Registry 2006). In recent years, the treatment of childhood cancer has been improved significantly.
 
However, leukemia, which affects white blood cells that defend the body against infecting organisms and foreign agents, is considered the most common type of childhood cancer. In addition, brain cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma are the second most common forms of cancer in children.
 
What are the risk factors and causes of childhood cancer?
  • Hereditary factors are one of the main causes of childhood cancer, where the incidence rates increasing by more than 4 times the average if one of the child’s siblings has been diagnosed with cancer. However, most of the common types of cancers are not caused by heritable variations in the DNA, but rather by alterations in the DNA that occur in early childhood.
  • Medical study warned against air pollution caused by vehicle exhaust fumes, where it increases the risk of developing cancer during childhood.
  • Experts clarified that chemicals, such as 1.3-Butadiene and carbon monoxide are harmful gases emitted by automobile vehicles, increasing air pollution and the risk of developing cancer during childhood.
  • Children who were exposed to high doses of radiation and chemicals like benzene or children infected with HIV, where leukemia is linked with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency diseases, have a higher risk of developing cancer.
 
Can childhood cancer be found early?
Childhood cancer may be difficult to recognize so it's important for parents to take their children for regular medical checkups and pay attention to any abnormal signs and symptoms, such as:
  • Abnormal mass or swelling
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Bruises
  • Limping
  • Unreasonable fever
  • Frequent headaches accompanied by vomiting
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Sudden weight loss
Prepared by:
Dr. Ali Mohammed Al-Wada’ai - Director of Cancer Prevention Program - MOH
 
 
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