Every year in Cyprus, approximately 42 new cases of cancer and leukemia are detected in people under the age of 19, and in most cases the child or teenager suffering from cancer or leukemia can be cured, the Professor of the School of Medicine of the University of Nicosia told KYPE , Pediatrician, Pediatric Oncologist – Pediatric Hematologist Dr. Loizos G. Loizou.
Most new cases concern acute leukemias, brain tumors, lymphomas, sarcomas, bone tumors , kidneys, liver and various other organs, he noted.
As Dr. Loizou said, at least 400,000 new cases of cancer and leukemia in children and adolescents are diagnosed worldwide each year, but the actual number is likely higher. In a large number of countries, many cases of childhood cancer are not recognized or recorded properly, he pointed out.
Cancer and leukemia are the second leading causes of death in children after accidents. But it is the first cause of death in children due to illness. The causes of cancer in children are not known. Only a percentage, 5% to 10%, is due to heredity.
According to Dr Loizou, children's cancers are different from those of adults. Treatment and general treatment are different. Cancer prevention in children is limited, while in adults it is the key to coping. In children, however, the cure rates, with proper treatment, are twice as high as in adults.
The main forms of malignant neoplastic diseases in children are: Leukemias (acute lymphoblastic, acute myeloblastic), brain tumors (astrocytoma, glioma, medulloblastoma ependymoma), lymphomas (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's type), neuroblastoma, soft tissue tumors, sarcomas (rhabdomyosarcoma), nephroblastoma (embryonic kidney cancer), hepatoblastoma (embryonic liver cancer), bone cancer (osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma), retinoblastoma (retinal cancer) and other tumors that can occur anywhere in the child's body.
The Professor said that early diagnosis and proper treatment contribute to the recovery of most children. In developed countries, the cure rate for children from cancer and leukemia ranges over 80%.
“In most cases the child suffering from cancer or leukemia can be cured. But the road is difficult and the test often seems like a Golgotha without an end”, says Dr. Loizou, adding that “the child's parents, siblings and his whole family, suddenly and without any warning are faced with a problem that at first it seems relentless and insurmountable. For a parent to hear that their child is suffering from leukemia or some other form of cancer, is one of the worst experiences a person can have,” he said.
For the child, he continued, the diagnosis of cancer comes to change everything in his life. “It interrupts his sweet carefree life and forces him to enter the labyrinthine and unknown world of the hospital. The tests, treatments and other procedures required are difficult, time-consuming, full of risks and unwanted complications,” he pointed out.
"But today cure is achieved in more than 80% of cases. More children, with the help of doctors and nurses, will succeed in defeating cancer. They will defeat it in a hard and decisive battle and then they will be able to have a good quality of life like the rest of their peers,” he said
For the child, he said Dr. So, this diagnosis means excruciating changes. “Suddenly and unexpectedly, he is forced out of the carefree happiness and sweetness of childhood. At the same time he has to enter the difficult world of the hospital, with often months or years of difficult tests and treatments”.
However, in this difficult Golgotha, the child, his parents, siblings and the rest of his family, do not remain alone, in our country, he said. “A large team of doctors, nurses and many other specialists at the Pediatric Oncology-Pediatric Hematology Center of the Archbishop Makarios III Hospital in Nicosia, in every possible and modern way, are by their side to relieve them, guide them, advise them and give them the best that can be offered today, for the diagnosis and treatment in the field of childhood cancer and leukemia”, he added.
Cancer and leukemia in children and adolescents are a very serious and very difficult medical and social problem. The correct and comprehensive treatment of these complex conditions includes not only the diagnosis and treatment but also the specialized psychological and social approach that both the young patients and their families need, he pointed out.