More children stricken by cancer
Sarawak Tribune - Tuesday, 23 April, 2002

KUCHING - An increasing number of children below 15 years of age are stricken by cancer, disclosed Dr Ong Gek Bee who is Resident Consultant Pediatric Oncologist with the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) yesterday.

She said the total number of children in Malaysia suffering from cancer in 1995 was 581 or about 79.9 persons per million children.

"We have been collecting our own data since 1997 and for the last three years, we found that approximately one child below 12 years old is being diagnosed with cancer per week," she disclosed in her presentation at the launch of the Sarawak Children Cancer Society (SCCS) at the SGH here.

It was officiated by Welfare and Women's Affairs Assistant Minister Datuk Paduka Hajah Sharifah Mordiah binte Tuanku Fauzi who is also the patron of the society.

Dr Ong said common types. of cancer affecting children were leukemia (30-35%), brain tumour (20%), neuroblastoma (67%), Wilm's tumour (5-7%) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (4-7%).

She said the actual cause of cancer among children was as yet unknown though it could be attributed to genetic factors or the environment.

The children warded at the Oncology Ward of SGH were given chemotherapy, radiotherapy, supportive care, religious and recreational activities, she added.

Meanwhile, Datin Paduka Hajah Sharifah Mordiah binte Tuanku Fauzi in her opening address commended SCCS for its role in helping children afflicted by cancer and their parents go through a difficult period.

She urged the committee to organise more activities for the public. She also called on members of the public to support SCCS activities.

Mordiah, who is also chairman of Sarawak Children Council, later presented a cheque for RM3,000 to the society, and assured that her ministry would contribute RM30,000 towards its activities.

According to SCCS president Peter Wong, the society is a non-profit voluntary organisation whose mission is to provide relief and care to children suffering from cancer and their families, as well as educate the public on the control, diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer.

The immediate plan is to purchase equipment like pinprick blood-analysing machines for painless blood testing, IV medication injection pumps and drugs, engaging qualified teachers to conduct in-house schooling for children undergoing treatment, educate parents on the disease and treatment, and organising a food fair on 11 August.

Later, Mordiah toured an exhibition on childhood cancer and visited the Oncology Ward where she presented gift packs from SCCS to the patients.