Cancer warning signs can mimic other ailments, Dubai doctors say

Pallor, bruising, bleeding and general pain accompanied by unexplained lumps or swelling may be a precursor to a condition that needs further investigation by doctors.

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DUBAI // Warning signs of cancer can be varied and similar to other everyday ailments that children can pick up as they ­mature – but other signs can be early indicators that there is something more serious.

Pallor, bruising, bleeding and general pain accompanied by unexplained lumps or swelling may be a precursor to a condition that needs further investigation by doctors.

Parents fired questions at doctors at Dubai Hospitals during a smart clinic with childhood cancer as its theme.

Questions were directed via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and email – with paediatric cancer specialists from Dubai Health Authority on hand to offer some friendly advice.

Dr Hani Humad, a paediatric oncology specialist at Dubai Hospital, said cure rates in this country were improving to reach levels found elsewhere in the world.

“We find about 85 per cent of children are free from cancer after five years,” he said.

“That is also due to good supportive measures such as good antibiotics, anti-fungal medicines and pain management.”

He said most of the questions were about what caused cancer.

“We try to explain that causes are often multifactorial and it is often not just one single cause,” he said.

“Unhealthy lifestyles and bad habits like smoking are often the cause of adult cancer, but in children it is more commonly genetic factors.”

People asked about the kinds of tumours that doctors saw at Dubai Hospital, and what were the signs that allowed doctors to distinguish between their children being unwell, or possibly having cancer.

Unexplained weight loss, fever, a persistent cough or shortness of breath could also be telltale signs. Those suffering from eyesight changes or loss of vision, abdominal swelling, persistent headaches and vomiting should also seek medical advice.

“We try to reassure parents, but it is hard,” Dr Humad said. “We emphasise the importance of early detection so treatment can be given early.

“If parents know what they are looking for, they can help get their child early treatment and then a recovery rate is high.”

nwebster@thenational.ae