On Childhood Cancer Survivor Day, doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) reported a remarkable achievement in the battle against childhood cancer. With approximately 70,000 new cases of pediatric cancers diagnosed each year in India, AIIMS has emerged as a beacon of hope by successfully treating nearly 400 young patients, achieving an impressive 75-80% survival rate in childhood cancer cases.
Dr. Rachna Seth, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at AIIMS, stated, “With childhood cancer being a substantial concern in India, the commendable efforts of AIIMS have garnered attention nationally and internationally. This achievement showcases the dedication and expertise of the medical professionals at AIIMS, who have successfully transformed the lives of hundreds of children and their families.”
Dr. Seth further shared that around 250 patients successfully finish their treatment at AIIMS annually and are subsequently enrolled in the survivor clinic. She further elaborated that in case additional challenges arise following cancer treatment, such as cardiac dysfunction, neurocognitive deficits, metabolic syndrome, or fertility-related issues, AIIMS ensures comprehensive care by facilitating consultations with the appropriate specialists.
Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers and, in most cases, can be cured if detected early and treated appropriately. The most prevalent types of childhood cancers include leukemias/lymphomas, CNS tumors, and other solid tumors such as neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, soft tissue sarcomas, bone tumors, and retinoblastoma. Dr. Seth cautioned against disregarding common symptoms such as unexplained fever, loss of energy, paleness, unusual lumps or swellings, weight loss, easy bruising, bleeding, and even squinting of the eyes, which can be potential signs of underlying health concerns. She stated, “It is crucial not to overlook these indicators, as prompt detection and intervention can significantly impact the outcome.”
The pediatric oncology division at AIIMS is leading the way in India by providing specialized cancer survivorship services. According to doctors, the division operates a dedicated weekly clinic where children who have completed their cancer treatment are registered. Additionally, the clinic offers follow-up care for those who have received treatment in the past, addressing crucial aspects such as growth, social challenges, education, integration into society, and the long-term effects of cancer treatment. Moreover, the survivors are closely monitored for disease recurrence. Given their compromised immune systems, these children undergo a revaccination course starting six months after completing their treatment.
This comprehensive approach to survivorship care underscores AIIMS’ commitment to the overall well-being and quality of life of pediatric cancer survivors. By focusing not only on the medical aspects but also on the psychosocial and developmental needs of these children, AIIMS is ensuring holistic support throughout their cancer journey and beyond.
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