Children cancer rates in Cyprus are among the highest in the world, Dr. Loizos Loizou Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Oncology, has told CNA, adding that they are investigating the causes.
Dr. Loizou said that according to the cancer registry for children and adolescents, the incidence of cancer in children and adolescents from 0-19 years of age is among the highest worldwide, but there is no increase in recent decades except for thyroid cancer, mainly for the ages between 15-19 years, in which an exacerbation is observed.
He noted that for the age group of 15-19 years, there is an annual increase of 7.5% which is concerning, adding that Cyprus has one of the highest if not the highest increase rates of thyroid cancer in the world as regards girls and boys.
Regarding all other forms of cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma, sarcoma, brain tumors, etc. he said that Cyprus maintains stable levels.
The National Pediatric Oncology Group, he said, in collaboration with experienced medical centres are investigating the causes of this, adding that one of the possible causes could be excessive exposure to ionizing radiation due to medical examinations, as well as obesity and excess body weight.
He pointed out that according to EU data Cyprus ranks first in Europe in childhood obesity.
Dr. Loizou told CNA that research shows that for the ages 0-19 there are about 42 new cases of cancer per year, 20% more for boys.
As regards the cure, he said that for children with all cancer forms the cure rate is over 80%, for acute lymphoblastic leukemia over 86%, for lymphomas over 95% and for thyroid cancer 100%.
Around 20% or one in five children with all forms of cancer will lose the battle, he said.
The healing rates rank Cyprus among the best worldwide, at the same levels as the developed countries of Western Europe and the USA, but there is much room for improvement, he said.
The number of children monitored throughout Cyprus is around 500, but not all of them are of the same age. Some treatments last three years or more, and children need long-term medical follow-up.
Dr. Loizou advises parents to call their pediatrician when their child presents with an unusual symptom, such as, for example, prolonged fatigue, a fever that is not explained by usual causes, an unexplained weight loss or the appearance of a lump somewhere on the body.