Leukaemia Takes a Toll on Childhood in Kerala

Paediatric leukaemia constitutes a major chunk of childhood cancers in the state.

Published: 13th August 2015 03:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2015 03:30 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Paediatric leukaemia constitutes a major chunk of childhood cancers in the state.

According to experts, the incidence of paediatric leukaemia  is 75 to 80 per cent of the malignancies in the section. But the other side is that the anomaly also has got 80 to 85 per cent success rate when it comes to curing it.

A child falls prey to the malignancy due to damages in the DNA, explained Dr Boban Thomas, oncologist, KIMS Pinnacle, Thiruvananthapuram. “Fever is one common symptom. If it cannot be cured by the conventional form of treatment, then it is time to look for an expert opinion.  Paediatricians should be open-minded because no parent would even think of such a possibility. If the problem persists even after the second dose of antibiotics, the doctor should refer the child to an oncologist,” he clarified.

Asked about the exact number of paediatric cancer patients in the state, P Gangadharan, statistician, cancer registry, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, said.

“The exact number in the state cannot be pinpointed because the registry of a hospital has only the cases that were registered in that particular hospital,” he said.

Experts could not pinpoint exact reasons for the DNA damage. “The only thing we can do is diagnosis and treating it at an early stage. Since the number of survivors is large, care should be extended to the other effects they can have because of long-term treatment,” Dr Arun Warrier, Consultant, Medical Oncology.

“We administer radiation, which can have side effects. Even medicines taken internally can have side effects. Hence such details have to be taken care of.”

Explaining further, Dr Boban said that things have actually improved. “In the 1960s there was no cure for leukaemia  whether in adult or children.

The mortality rate was 100 per cent. Now, the success rate of cure has risen to 80 to 85 per cent. Another advantage is that the disease is not increasing but static,” he said.

One visible hurdle is the limited number of paediatric oncologists.  “We have to keep in mind that child is not a small adult. If the state is ready to bear the burden, it could be a huge help to the family,” Dr Boban said.


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