In Mexico, leukemia accounts for 52% of all types of cancer of the pediatric age and timely diagnosis is the best way to avoid mortality from this disease, the oncopediatrist Ivan Castorena told Efe.
Prior to the International Day of Childhood Cancer that is commemorated on February 15, the specialist noted that in countries such as Mexico the percentage of cure of patients in pediatric age is, on average, 70%, according to data from the Department of Oncology Hospital Child of Mexico Federico Gómez.
“In developed countries the percentages of cure are greater than 80 and up to 90%,” he said; however, in these countries timely diagnosis is high.
The doctor Ángel Nuño Bonales, director of health promotion of the Ministry (Ministry) of Health of the state of Jalisco, explained in an interview that in Mexico it is estimated that between 6 and 9 children per 100,000 suffer from any of the cancer variants.
He asserted that this is one of the main causes of death in childhood, especially in children between 5 and 14 years.
The leukemia, he explained, is the main type of cancer in children and is characterized by a deformation of white blood cells that directly affects the bone marrow, he added.
As for the so-called solid tumors, the most common are lymphomas, tumors that affect the cells that make up the immune system known as lymphocytes.
It is also common for children to have astrocytoma, a type of cancer that forms in the brain or spinal cord, or retinoblastoma, which mainly affects the retina of the eyes.
Castorena explained that three important elements are involved in childhood cancer: genetic mutations, the immune system and the environment.
The specialist said that there are three main types of leukemia in pediatric age, the most frequent being acute lymphoblastic, which occurs in 72% of cases, followed by acute myeloid with 25% and the remaining percentage corresponds to chronic granilocitica .
Nuño Bonales explained that the survival that a child with cancer can currently have is much greater than other years, “but the average in Mexico is 56%.”
In this regard, Castorena explained that among the reasons why the average survival rate has been increased is because the symptoms are increasingly disseminated, but also because of the medical advances that have been made for their treatment.
Currently there is a medication called pegaspargase, which is a modified enzyme and is used in the treatment of this disease.
The expert explained that this drug has a longer effect against leukemia because it creates a shell that decreases the production of antibodies, which helps healing.
In the case of patients who do not achieve remission with this type of medication, the alternative, he said, is a bone marrow transplant.
He pointed out that the most important thing is timely diagnosis, because when it is achieved, there is more chance of success with treatment.
So, he asked the parents to be alert to the most common symptoms that indicate the onset of this disease. “Children tend to have persistent fever, lose weight without any cause, their pupils have a white reflex, they grow nodes or abdomen, have persistent pain in body and head and lose functions such as toilet training,” he said.
If the children have any of these symptoms, the first thing to do is approach a specialist doctor so that the child can be checked.
In the same way, he pointed out that it is advisable to lead a healthy life. “Exercise, have a diet according to recommendations of the plate of good eating and be alert for any symptoms,” concluded the specialist. (EFE) .-