HEALTH experts have called for more attention on non-communicable diseases like cancer, which has now become more life-threatening even to children.
Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.
The Ministry of Health’s Cancer, and Palliative Care Advocate, Sejojo Pharoe, told the Lesotho Times this week that early detection of cancer was critical to ensuring survival for the potentially terminal disease.
He said about 100 to 115 children from ages zero to 15 years were being referred to South Africa for treatment annually for various types of cancer, showing that it was becoming more prevalent in Lesotho.
Among the types of cancer affecting children were brain cancer, Wilms tumour (kidney cancer), bone cancer, Leukaemia and kidney (renal cell carcinoma renal) cancer.
To raise awareness on the disease, Mr Pharoe said the ministry would hold a Childhood Cancer Awareness event on Saturday at Pitso Ground.
“We urge parents, guardians and teachers to always be attentive to dizziness, tiredness, slow heartbeat, nose bleeding and prolonged pain in children by taking them to the nearest clinics or hospitals because they could be signs of cancer,” he said.
“Early screening and healthy lifestyles are very important. Mothers should desist from taking unprescribed drugs during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.”
Pearl Maisaka Letsoela, who is a parent of an acute lymphoblastic leukaemia survivor told this paper her 19-year old son Isaac was diagnosed with the disease at three years of age.
Ms Letsoela said her son initially lost weight and would cry incessantly saying he was in pain.
“He complained about having pain in the stomach and we used to take him to the hospital with his father,” she said.
“The doctors discovered that Isaac had lost a lot of blood and we were referred to Bloemfontein where they diagnosed the acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and he underwent chemotherapy.”
The doctors told Ms Letsoela her son had a 20 percent chance of survival and a few weeks to live.
“I then prepared myself for any eventuality and also put my trust in God. My faith was revived for my child’s survival,” she said.
“What my child went through also adversely affected my health and I hope no parent goes through my ordeal. Some people even went to the extent of associating my child’s illness with witchcraft because he was completely unrecognisable and swollen.”
Ms Letsoela said her son survived the disease, although they regularly go for check-ups to ensure it does not return.
“We used to go to hospital every week but now my boy goes for a check-up once a month to ensure he has not relapsed or developed some new condition,” she said.
“It is very crucial for parents to consult health professionals the minute they spot something different with their children because it may save their life.”
Isaac, Ms Lestsoela said, is doing his matric in South Africa and aspires to study aeronautics in the United Kingdom.