Children Among Those Affected By Cancer

THE number of young cancer patients has increased in recent years, with children as young as three months being diagnosed with the disease.

Speaking to The Namibian, Nellie Coetzee of the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) said children are being diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, cancer of the kidneys, the liver, the spinal cord and the eye as well as brain tumours.

“We have children who are as young as three months being hospitalised,” Coetzee said.

Information from the Windhoek Central Hospital’s Ward Eight West indicated that the affected children can, in fact, be less than a month old.

During the launch of the Countdown Campaign of the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference yesterday, the First Lady, Penehupifo Pohamba, said studies conducted in Namibia on reproductive tract cancers revealed that there are many myths surrounding cancer, especially in regard to its causes and associated factors.

She said it was discovered that people do not go early for screenings, which sabotages early detection.

“Some people lack the information they need on these different types of cancer and others are afraid to find out due to the stigma associated with cancer,” said Pohamba, adding that lack of finances and transport attributed to the problem.

During a visit to the Windhoek Central Hospital’s cancer ward, which currently accommodates 22 children, The Namibian spoke to the mother of a nine-month-old boy who was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney.

Secilia Moses said her son was born in July last year but they only discovered early this year that he has a tumour in his stomach.

“I was breastfeeding him and when I thought he was full, I touched his tummy and felt a hard lump. I immediately took him to the hospital the next day where they told us that he has cancer,” said Moses.

She further said they have now spent two months in the Windhoek Central Hospital and that he will be going for surgery next week.

Superintendent of the Windhoek Central Hospital Sarah Shalongo also expressed concern with cancer in children, saying she hopes that in the future it will receive more attention.

The cancer association has a Children With Cancer in Namibia programme that deals with knowledge of childhood cancer and alerting the public of warning signs. It also offers emotional support to affected families.

Source : The Namibian