Every year approximately 42 new cases of cancer or leukaemia affecting children and teenagers under 19 years of age are diagnosed in Cyprus, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Oncology/Hematology/Immunology at the Medical School of the University of Nicosia Loizos Loizou has told CNA, adding that in most cases the disease can be cured.
In statements to CNA on Friday, professor Loizou said that most new cases have to do with acute leukemia, lymphoma, sarcoma or tumours in the bones, kidneys, liver or other organs.
Every year, he noted, about 400,000 new cases of cancer and leukaemia are diagnosed in children and teenagers globally but the real number is likely much higher as in many countries many cancers in children are not diagnosed or documented.
Dr. Loizou said that cancer and leukaemia constitute the second more frequent cause of death in children after accidents. It is however the first cause of death in children due to a disease, he pointed out. He added that it is not known what causes cancer in children and that heredity is only to blame for 5% to 10% of cases.
According to the professor, cancers occurring to children are different from the ones afflicting adults. Treatment and generally the way they should be dealt with are different. Prevention in children is limited while in adults it constitutes the key to dealing with the disease, he said. However, he noted, with the right treatment the likelihood of full recovery is double in children than in adults.
Timely diagnosis and correct treatment contribute in most children recovering, he noted, adding that in developed countries the percentage of full recovery of children from cancer and leukaemia is over 80%.
Dr. Loizou also speaks of how difficult the situation is for the child itself and the family, pointing out that “for a parent to hear that his child has leukaemia or some type of cancer is one of the worst experiences one can go through.”
In Cyprus a large team of doctors, nurses and other specialists at the Makarios Hospital’s Paediatric Haematology and Oncology unit stand by the family and the patients “to comfort them, guide, advise them and offer them the best available options” for diagnosis and treatment.