Only 1 in 10 children with cancer get complete treatment in India: Report

At least 10-12 children per 10,000 population will develop cancer in India annually. Out of 60,000 children afflicted with this disease, only one out of 10 receives complete therapy. According to researchers with the new Lancet Oncology series published on Tuesday, the burden is likely to increase if cases are not detected early.

Even as the new series has sent messages to various governments to develop strategies for childhood cancer, for the first time the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research in Bangalore will come out with a report on the incidence of different types of childhood cancers in India. Dr A Nandakumar, director in charge of the centre, said that leukaemias, lymphomas and retinoblastomas are very common in India.

In a global effort to prevent, cure and control cancer, the specific needs of children and young people with cancer are often overlooked, perhaps because they represent less than two per cent of the global cancer burden.

Kathy Pritchard-Jones, Professor of Paediatric Oncology, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, and one of the key researchers of the Lancet Oncology series told The Indian Express that there were important messages for governments in developing their strategies for childhood cancer.

"Paediatric haemato-oncologists in India have organised themselves well in the last decade, rolling out a national training programme for health professionals in general paediatrics," said Pritchard Jones. Twinning programmes which allow you to partly study in one's country and partly at a foreign institution need to be encouraged, she added.

Lack of complete therapy for children is mainly due to poor supportive care and inadequate infrastructure, said one of the Indian researchers, Dr Bharat Agarwal, head of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology department, B J Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, and former secretary general of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology.

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