INDIANAPOLIS — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and state health officials want Hoosier parents to be aware of the risks and symptoms.
Although childhood cancers are rare, representing less than 1 percent of all new cancer diagnoses, cancer is the second leading cause of death among children.
“Cancer is a dreaded diagnosis and is especially difficult when it strikes a child,” State Health Commissioner William VanNess said in a press release. “Parents should be aware that early symptoms for cancer in children are usually nonspecific. It is important that children have regular medical checkups and that parents address any unusual symptoms that persist.”
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be nearly 12,000 new cancer diagnoses among children (0-14 years) this year in the United States.
Fortunately, with recent advances in cancer treatment, long-term survival rates for children continue to improve. Childhood cancers can be treated by a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, chosen based on the type and stage of cancer.
Children should have annual well-child exams during which their health care provider will ask about any unusual symptoms.
Parents should discuss any of the following symptoms with a health care provider:
• Unusual mass or swelling;
• Prolonged, unexplained fever or illness;
• Unexplained paleness or loss of energy;
• Frequent headaches, especially if accompanied by vomiting;
• Sudden tendency to bruise;
• Sudden eye or vision changes;
• Persistent, localized pain; and
• Excessive, rapid weight loss,
For more information about childhood cancer in Indiana, see the Indiana Cancer Facts and Figures 2012 report, a comprehensive report on the burden of cancer in Indiana, by visiting the website at www.indianacancer.org.
Organizations interested in impacting the burden of cancer in Indiana may participate in the Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC).
The ICC is a statewide network of partnerships whose mission is to reduce the cancer burden in Indiana through the development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive plan that address cancer across the continuum from prevention through palliation.