To mark international Childhood Cancer Day, the young cancer patients at Dubai Hospital were super thrilled when their favourite superheroes - Batman, Snow-white, Elsa and other characters from the movie Frozen – visited them.
“Unlike adult cancers, where only 60 per cent of cases are curable, almost 85 per cent of all pediatric cancer cases are curable if detected and treated early on,” stressed Dr Abdulrehman Al Jassmi, consultant oncologist and CEO of Dubai Hospital.
On an annual basis, the hospital receives approximately 50 new cases of pediatric cancer, of which 70 per cent are leukemia and the remaining 30 per cent are cases of solid tumors, he said.
At Dubai Hospital, there are currently 72 children undergoing active treatment for cancer at the hospital.
The hospital has treated 70 patients who now visit the hospital for regular follow-ups.
Dr Al Jassmi was highlighting the importance of timely detection and treatment options at the Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA’s) smart clinic.
Currently the youngest patient is a 7-month-old Egyptian expatriate who has brain tumor and the oldest patient is 18 years old. The hospital transfers patients to the adult oncology clinics after they turn 18.
Al Jassmi said that most of the cases that come to Dubai Hospital are detected early on, which is an important criteria for positive patient outcome. The hospital has advanced services for early diagnosis, treatment and long-term follow up.
Dr Hani Humad, paediatric oncologist at Dubai Hospital, said, “Most childhood cancers initially present with non-specific signs and symptoms, which may lead to late detection. Childhood cancers are rare; therefore, there is no widely recommended screening tests to look for cancer.
“Some children have a higher chance of developing a specific type of cancer because of certain genes they inherit from a parent. These children need careful, regular medical check-ups that include special tests to look for early signs of cancer.
“We have had few cases of congenital cancer, which means the child is born with cancer.
“However, in general, cancer in children can be hard to detect right away because early symptoms are often like those caused by much more common illnesses or injuries. Parents should be sure that their children have regular medical check-ups and watch for any unusual signs or symptoms that do not go away.”
Humad said these symptoms include an unusual lump or swelling, unexplained paleness and loss of energy, easy bruising, nose bleeds, gum bleeds, dizziness, an ongoing pain in one area of the body, limping, unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away, frequent headaches often with vomiting, sudden eye or vision changes and sudden unexplained weight loss.
He said once diagnosed, the hospital offers psychological counselling to parents and children. The hospital also has a dedicated team of social workers who provide emotional and psychological support to the children.
Parents whose children have battled cancer and are free-of-cancer, often visit the hospital to provide support and guidance the parents whose children are undergoing active treatment.