Throughout September there has been a heightened awareness of childhood cancer, raising awareness of rare occurrences of cancer in children and young people. Every year around 1,900 children up to the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK, and it can be very different to adult cancer.
It’s incredibly important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, particularly because cure rates for children can be much higher than they were previously. Since the 1960s, the survival rate for children’s cancer has more than doubled.
Understanding rare childhood cancers
There are a number of cancers that can occur in children, including leukaemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma. Some are rarer than others, and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
hopes to offer support and advice as well as increasing the effectiveness of treatment.
Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that usually affects children under the age of 5, but it’s often successfully treated if picked up early. Making sure patients with young children are aware of the signs could be life-saving. If a parent has had retinoblastoma previously, or a previous child has had retinoblastoma and they are expecting another baby, it’s really important that the child is screened.
How opticians can help
Eye examinations and screenings can help to detect changes in eye appearance and identify any signs of a health condition. Luckily, retinoblastoma is often diagnosed just by its appearance, but in some cases it might be helpful to carry out a red reflex test and checking the pressure in the eye.
Treatment for retinoblastoma is typically very successful, and 9 out of every 10 children are cured.
Every September, CCLG promotes awareness of childhood cancer, providing expert advisers to the Government, funding research communities and offering an active forum for professionals.
Supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
There are many different ways to get involved and support this great cause. Make sure your patients know that you’re able to offer eye examinations for children, and help them to recognise the signs of eye conditions. This can give parents the tools they need to feel confident in looking out for their children’s health.
You can also get involved on social media with the hashtag #CCAM, as well as traditional donations and fundraising opportunities!