International Childhood Cancer Day was marked in Cyprus on Wednesday, with the Elpida foundation revealing the country records 42 cases of cancer per year for those under the age of 19.
In a press conference aimed at raising awareness, head of the Elpida foundation (which translates to hope) Dr Loizos Loizou said the child cancer rates in Cyprus make up 15 per cent of the nationwide cases every year.
Males are more affected than females at a ratio of one to two, while research shows thyroid gland cancer diagnoses in children is among the highest rates in Cyprus.
The health ministry’s permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki said in many cases, patients are sent for further treatment in Germany. In 2023, there were 15 transfers, two of which were for re-examination.
In 2022, 38 children were transferred to Germany for treatment.
According to Loizou the annual percentage increase in thyroid cancer cases “is very high, at 7.6 per cent, which means that every year there is this increase in the number of new cases, while the number of cases of metastatic thyroid cancer in adolescents aged 15-19 years increased four times in the period 2008-2017 compared to the decade 1998-2007.”
Nonetheless, treatment and cure for thyroid cancer is at 100 per cent, while for lymphomas it is at 95 per cent.
Leukemias (acute lymphoblastic) cure rates are at 86 per cent while for all cancers in 0-19 year olds, survival is greater than 80 per cent, which means that for every five affected children, four will survive.
Commenting on the causes of child cancer, factors include genetics, environmental and nutritional factors, though research is expected to be completed before the end of the year.