Globocan estimates that in Kenya, there are about 3,000 new cases of childhood cancer diagnosed each year. However, these numbers are likely underestimates due to inadequate reporting of cases to the national cancer registries. In addition, many children with cancer are often misdiagnosed as other conditions that present with clinical symptoms and signs that are similar to those of childhood cancers.
The International Agency on Research in Cancer (IARC) also reports that about 80% of the cancer cases in the world are in developing countries but they are associated with a less than 20% survival while the reverse is true in developed countries where majority of the cancer cases about 80% survival rates. An important cause of these dismal outcomes in our setting is late late presentation of children to treatment centres due to lack of awareness of caregivers and healthcare workers on the early warning signs of childhood cancer.
Prof Githanga, a Board Member of Kenya Childhood Cancer Trust (KeCCT), is actively involved in the training of HCW through the program led by Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital (GCH) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI-K) and Kenya Childhood Cancer Trust (KeCCT) has been formed to raise awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer amongst health care workers in public hospitals nationwide. Dissemination of information on childhood cancer is ongoing through outreach programs in various Level 5 hospitals that have initially been selected for partnership in this initiative: Nakuru, Nyeri, Kisii, Meru, Machakos, Garissa, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Msambweni, Mombasa and Kakamega hospitals.
It is hoped that through this initiative the incidence of late diagnosis of childhood cancers due to low healthcare worker awareness will be reduced, an important step in improving treatment outcomes in childhood cancer.