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Food & Health

Can Children Survive Cancer?

Jazz singer Michael Bublé announced last week that his son, Noah, 3, was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment. This came after they brought him to the doctor for what they suspected were mumps. According to the boy’s aunt, Noah doesn’t have leukemia or brain tumour, which are the two most common childhood cancers.

Michael and his Argentinian-model wife, Luisana Lopilato, will be putting their careers on hold to devote all their time to caring for Noah. “I just don’t want to look back and say, ‘God, I should have been there more. Because I have a feeling that I’ll never look back and say, ‘Jeez, I should have worked more,’” Michael says. The couple have another 10-month-old son named Elias.

Childhood Cancers In Singapore

In Singapore, only one per cent of all cancer cases happen to children and teenagers. However this one per cent shows up in about 100 new cases of childhood cancers here each year. Luckily, with today’s advanced technology, some childhood cancers such as acute leukemia, lymphoma, kidney cancer and germ cell cancer have a cure rate of up to 80 per cent.

Michael Buble says his family was "broken in half" by son Noah's cancer diagnosis.

Michael Buble says his family was “broken in half” by son’s cancer diagnosis.

The Most Common Cancers

The most common cancer seen in children is leukemia, which happens to about three in 10 cases of childhood cancer. Leukemia occurs when the bone marrow overproduces immature white blood cells called blast cells. Symptoms of leukaemia are paleness, fatigue, bleeding or brusing and recurring fever that last from days to months.

Brain tumour is the second most common cancer, affecting up to two out of 10 children with cancer. Children with brain tumours may complain of headaches, blurred vision, vomiting, weakness of one side of the body, unsteadiness in walking, or epilepsy. Generally, kids with brain tumour will require surgery as well as radiation treatment. The chance of cure is up to 70 per cent when the tumour has not spread.

Cancers In Children Different From Those In Adults

The good news from doctors is that generally the outcomes of cancers in children are better than adults. Even for cancers of the same type, the biological features and responses to treatment are very different.

Survival Rate For Children With Cancer

On the whole, 70 to 75 per cent of children diagnosed to date in Singapore are expected to cure completely. With good family care and support, children can endure anti-cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Do watch out for immediate and delayed complications such as bleeding or infection, as these can be dangerous, and seek treatment at a specialised centre or hospital.

If you have a child with childhood cancer and would like to share your story on Singapore’s Child to encourage others, leave us a message and state your contact information and we’ll get in touch.