Cyprus Mail

Cyprus has one of highest rates of child cancers in the world

child cancer
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Cyprus has one of the highest rates of child cancer in the world, with leukemia being one of the most frequent diagnoses, according to the findings of a study presented on Friday.

Presented by Dr Loizos Loizou, professor of pediatrics at the Medical School of the University of Nicosia, he said Cyprus has never before studied the epidemiology of cancer in children and adults. Currently, the country has the highest case rate in the world, after Italy and Belgium.

The four most common types of cancer in Cyprus are leukemia, lymphomas, specific epithelial tumors and tumours of the central nervous system, which comprise 73 per cent of all cases. Of all cancer cases, child cancer rates are at 1.5 per cent, the professor noted.

According to Loizou, the rates of thyroid cancer in children aged 15-19 and for both sexes are alarming, because we they are among the highest in the world. “There is a very high annual change of 7.5 per cent which accounts for almost 10 per cent of all cancer types in this age group.”

“Women are affected three to five times more than men. Papillary carcinoma is the predominant type and there is a quadruple increase in metastatic cases, which is worrying,” he noted. Fortunately, he added, the survival rate is 100 per cent.

Scientists created the paediatric oncology registry of Cyprus to follow the data “because it is only when we understand the cause that we can have prevention.” It was decided that in Cyprus, four causes will be explored: obesity, ionising radiation, arsenic and cancer predisposition syndromes.

As for obesity, Loizou said it has increased significantly over the past 20 years, noting that in 2015 childhood obesity was 20 per cent but three years later, that figure had risen to 43 per cent. Regarding ionising radiation, he said efforts and campaigns are underway to limit exposure. Arsenic can be carcinogenic in low concentration he added, and there is an increasing figures which are more prevalent in Nicosia, and higher than other countries.

Where thyroid cancer is concerned, women and teenagers between the age of 15 and 19 are most affected, Loizou said. Most of the cases of leukemia appear between the ages of one and five.

Looking ahead, scientists will focus on genetic influences and diet so as to better understand how to prevent cancer, he noted.

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