Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) has launched a campaign, ‘I’m a hero’, with the aim of raising awareness on childhood cancer.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is observed in September, and cancers are the major cause of death among children around the world, QCS has said in a statement.
Mariam al-Noaimi, general manager of QCS, said: “This campaign aims to emphasise the importance of early detection, and the need to raise awareness, of childhood cancer in a simplified and interactive way for children and educate their families on the ways to prevent it.”
She thanked all those who have contributed to the event, Mall of Qatar, KidzMondo, Economic Zones Company (Manateq) and Syrian American Medical Centre.
Heba Nassar, head of the Health Education Department at QCS, said leukaemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, followed by brain and central nervous system tumours, according to statistics available with the Ministry of Public Health for Qatar, 2015.
She said the risk factors include environmental radiation, radiation during pregnancy, excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation and some childhood cancers are also caused by viral infections.
Active or passive smoking by the mother during pregnancy or the period prior to conception, as well as inherited genetic abnormalities, are other factors.
“Parents should be sure that their children have regular medical checkups and watch for any unusual signs or symptoms,” she advised.
Nassar explained that the risk of cancer could be reduced through minimal exposure to radiation during pregnancy and breastfeeding for six months or longer.
She said, “Make sure that your child is taking all scheduled vaccines, maintain a healthy sleeping pattern for children and create a happy, laughter-filled environment at home, which will help improve their immune systems.
“In addition, help them adopt a healthy lifestyle with healthy eating habits and plenty of exercise, in order to maintain a healthy weight.
This can be done by replacing unhealthy snacks with fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Also, encourage them to play motor skills games instead of electronic games and protect your child from the ill effects of smoking by not smoking during pregnancy.
After birth, protect them from passive smoking and finally, keep your children safe from sun exposure (use sun protection items such as sunglasses, sunblock, long-sleeved clothes and wide hats).”
Some children have a higher chance of developing a specific type of cancer because of certain gene changes they inherit from a parent, she observed. “These children may need careful and regular medical check-ups that include special tests to look for early signs of cancer.”