Saturday, February 4 was World Cancer Day, a day for the world to remember those diagnosed with the disease and to learn more about how to prevent, detect or treat it. SickKids is working hard to fight cancer.
SickKids patient Mutasim knows about that fight all too well. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a tumour in his bladder. After two months of treatment, Mutasim had surgery to remove his bladder and had an artificial bladder inserted. The surgery was followed by eight more months of chemotherapy. In between treatments, his days were spent with a tutor, making arts and crafts with Child Life specialists at the Hospital and playing in the Starlight Lounge, a special play area at SickKids for oncology patients. Since his most recent surgery in September 2011, hospital visits have become fewer and farther between and Mutasim started school full time and loves being back in the company of his classmates.
On average, SickKids sees a new cancer patient every day. Thanks in part to some incredible donors, our researchers and clinicians have made some incredible strides in the fight against cancer. In 2011, SickKids researchers developed a new approach for detecting cancer early in patients at high risk for the disease. This ‘Toronto protocol’ led to a 100 per cent survival rate among the patients and is now being used by doctors around the world. SickKids researchers also identified two distinct subgroups in common childhood brain cancer which will help develop more personalized treatments.
Children dealing with cancer spend a great deal of their young lives in and out of the hospital. The Hospital for Sick Children is dedicated to staying at the forefront of paediatric cancer care and research to ultimately help these children live longer, more fulfilling lives.
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and its member organizations, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), recognize February 4 as World Cancer Day to promote cancer awareness and prevention.
In Canada, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children aged 2-14 with approximately 1,400 Canadian children diagnosed each year. SickKids treats approximately 25 per cent of these children.
Donations – like the recent $30-million gift from Myron and Berna Garron to establish the Garron Family Cancer Centre – have allowed doctors and scientists at SickKids to make leaps and bounds in paediatric cancer research and care.
SickKids has the largest oncology training program of its kind in Canada and, thanks to generous support, is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to provide cancer care. Most recently, The Sears Cancer Clinic – made possible by the Government of Ontario and the kindness of donors including Sears – opened in 2010. The 14,000-square-foot clinic, outfitted with 16 examination rooms, four consultation rooms and four isolation rooms, was designed to improve processes and patient flow.
Forty years ago, only five per cent of Canadian children with cancer survived. Today, three quarters of Canadian children with cancer will go on to lead healthy, active lives, thanks to the efforts of doctors, researchers, and our generous family of donors. But much work still needs to be done.
According to the UICC, more than 12-million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Approximately 7.6 million people – or about three times the population of the city of Toronto – die from the disease yearly. Research has suggested that nearly two-thirds of these deaths could have been avoided through prevention, early detection and treatment.
Read more on the research and care developments of the past year in the field of cancer at SickKids.
The theme of World Cancer Day is “Cancer can be prevented.” To learn more, visit the World Cancer Day website