September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

In Saint Lucia, there is an average of 3-5 new cases of childhood cancers per year. In 2011, 12 cases were diagnosed. No age is spared but childhood cancers are most common between the ages of 2-15 years.The cause is unknown in most cases of childhood cancers. However, as in adults, there are genetic forms (e.g. familial cancers of the eye and bowel). Other concerning associations include: smoking, some viruses (Human Papilloma Virus, Hepatitis B), certain dietary triggers (charcoal in barbecued foods, nitrites/nitrates in preserved meats, and additives like MSG), toxic chemicals (pesticides and acrylamide from over-heated fries and other commercially processed carbohydrates), excess sun exposure, severe insect allergy, obesity and significant adverse childhood experiences can also increase their risks by creating a chronic stressful state.

Warning signs may be general or specific: Weight loss, poor appetite, poor growth, tiredness, strange bruises or swellings, abnormal growth of limbs, glands in the neck or belly, headaches and cloudy eyes.

Successful treatment depends on the type of cancer, early detection and urgent therapy.

Efforts at PREVENTION include:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding and avoidance of artificial formulas
  • Healthy lifestyles – exercising, diets rich in fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed or preserved foods, avoiding smoking or smoke-filled environments, and excessive sunlight exposure.
  • Reducing sugary beverages and salty / fried foods.
  • Well-child care.
  • Immunizations – HPV and Hep B vaccines in childhood, and  avoiding or minimizing adverse childhood experiences.

In Saint Lucia we have several challenges: limited availability of treatments options (like some chemotherapy agents and radiotherapy), blood bank stores, difficult access to specialist referral centres for advanced disease, and sometimes, disjointed and delayed care.

On the brighter side, our successes in care can be attributed to the overwhelming support from public and corporate partners who make transfer, treatment and support possible.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED THAT YOUR CHILD/WARD MAY HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THESE SYMPTOMS, please call us or email us @ 452.1538 or stluciacancersociety@gmail.com. Visit us on FB or Instagram.

#GOGOLD IN SEPTEMBER FOR CHILDHOOD CANCERS

WEAR SOMETHING GOLD ON THE LAST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH

(Ribbons, socks…. anything)

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