Health: Spotting behavioural, developmental markers key to early detection of cancer in kids

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Identifying behaviour and developmental markers is key to early detection of cancer in kids but it is often overlooked, says Dr Abhishek Shankar, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna.

Talking to IANS, Dr Shankar said that with the development of new medical treatments and technologies, the survival rate of children with cancer has increased.

However, childhood cancer has an undesirable impact on patients and their families. Childhood malignancies raise a range of medical, psychological and social concerns, he added.

“A total of 33.3 per cent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia had emotional disorders, as per a study, whereas, 53 per cent of children with neoplasms were suffering from some emotional and behavioural disorders, reports another study,” AIIMS Professor said.

While talking about the challenges of rising paediatric cancer, Dr Shankar said that one-third of paediatric cancer survivors suffer from cognitive impairments, often due to chemotherapy treatment.

The most common long-term cognitive deficits found in paediatric cancer survivors receiving chemotherapy treatment include alterations in attention and executive functioning, altered or decreased processing speed, working memory, and visual spatial abilities.

“There is a need for intervention from the beginning, so developmental-behavioural pediatricians should be an important part of the team to ensure better quality of life”, the AIIMS Professor added.

Delhi-based leading developmental paediatrician Dr Shubham Roy said that the prevalence of emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents is on the rise.

“We have not seen the paediatric cancer patients coming to us for assessments before their treatment begins. However, it is important to understand the treatment related changes if we get a baseline data. This should be an integral component of continued paediatric cancer care”, Roy further added.

Roy said that there are many challenges in terms of interventions and they require a multidisciplinary team led by a developmental Pediatrician for ensuring regular monitoring and tailoring various therapies according to the needs of a particular child.

(Avinash Prabhakar can be reached at [email protected])

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