Cape Town – The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa), in partnership with the City, lit up Table Mountain in gold in support of childhood cancer survivors, those battling cancer, and those who died.
The golden lights, the shade of the international awareness ribbon for childhood cancer, switched on at 8pm yesterday for an hour.
Last month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was commemorated in South Africa.
Provincial Cansa TLC (Tough Living with Cancer) co-ordinator Anthea-Lynn Lewis said that in previous years, 600 to 700 children were diagnosed with cancer each year in South Africa.
Statistics show that about 1000 cases of childhood cancer are now reported annually, with a survival rate of 55%, said Lewis.
“The aim of the event is to create awareness of childhood cancer, also to stand in solidarity with all children and teenagers currently fighting cancer.
“We will be standing together for everyone who has heard the words, ‘your child has cancer’, and also to support them through this journey.”
Lewis said people should be made more aware of the warning signs of childhood cancer.
“We need to educate people more about the risk factors of cancer because why is it that the survival rate in developed countries is 80%, yet in SA it is only 55%, and many of our cancers are diagnosed at a late stage when it is normally put down as growing pains? So when the cancer comes to the forefront, it is already at an advanced stage, which means treatment is starting late, therefore the chances of survival decreases, so we want people to be more aware.”
Lewis advised that when a child pointed out periodic pain or discomfort, the child should be checked immediately and a second opinion sought if needed.
Choc Childhood Cancer Foundation regional manager Lynette Muthuray said although there had been a significant increase of 1.56% in early detection over the past year, and a year-on-year increase of 35% in Choc beneficiaries, there was still a huge need for awareness and detection in South Africa.
“With reports of childhood cancer curability being on the rise in South Africa, according to a 2014 report by the American Cancer Society, it is now estimated that one in 408 children worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15.
Yet with early detection and treatment in paediatric oncology units, globally the survival rate can be as high as between 70% and 80% with variance, depending on the type of cancer.”