Go gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Childhood cancer. These are two words that shouldn't be seen together. The word 'childhood' should evoke happy memories of ice cream, playing in the park, giggles and laughter. Sadly for more than 10 children each day, the innocence of childhood is forever devastated by a diagnosis of cancer.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and many people are showing their support by wearing gold ribbons, gold clothing… in fact anything gold. The aim of the campaign is to make people aware that, although rare, cancer can occur at any age. Treatments for some types of childhood cancer are achieving good rates of success, but sadly cancer still remains the leading cause of health-related death in children and teenagers.

The commonest types of childhood cancer are the blood cancers or acute leukaemias. However, cancer can affect all parts of the body such as the brain, eye and kidneys.

The symptoms of cancer can be difficult to spot in youngsters and may often be vague or mimic other conditions. The following lists of symptoms usually represent non-serious illnesses, but if they persist for more than a few weeks you should discuss it with your doctor.

  • Not able to wee, or blood in wee
  • An unexplained lump or firmness anywhere in the body
  • Swollen glands
  • Back pain that doesn't go away
  • Persistent headaches
  • Frequent bruising
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Unexplained fits or changes in vision or behavior
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Unexplained sweating or fever
  • Unexplained weight loss or poor appetite
  • Changes in appearance of the eye or unusual eye reflections in photos
  • Frequent infections or flu-like symptoms.

Show your support by wearing something gold and for more information visit Children with Cancer UK's campaign or Cancer Research's information.

Dr Jessica Garner is a GP and health blogger.