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  • Anthony Houlahan

Children's cancer in Singapore

Updated: Oct 13



June 18 2020. Day 58.


During Singapore’s lock down (aka “Circuit Breaker”) I’ve been working as a food delivery rider and have raised more than 100,000 dollars for the Children’s Cancer Foundation to enhance the lives of children, and their families, affected by cancer.


Why am I motivated to support the Children’s Cancer Foundation?


This is the first of 3 short blog posts which answer that question. In this post, I write briefly about children’s cancer in Singapore. In a second post, I’ll write about what the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) does to enhance the lives of children, and their families, affected by cancer. In a third post, I’ll provide some information on the impact the CCF has provided to its beneficiaries.


Around 160 children in Singapore are diagnosed with cancer every year. Most are diagnosed with cancer before they are 4 years old.


The rate of incidence is increasing. In the period 1968 - 1972, around 9.9 out of every 100,000 children in Singapore were diagnosed with cancer. The incidence rate today has increased by nearly 80%. In the period 2013 - 2017, the incidence rate of cancer in children in Singapore was 17.3 per 100,000 children.


There are more than 100 different types of childhood cancers that can develop in different parts of the body. The most common types in Singapore are Leukemia, brain and Central Nervous System (CNS) tumours and lymphomas.


Leukemia is a cancer of the blood in which white blood cells grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs via the bloodstream. These white blood cells crowd out and slow down the production of healthy blood cells. Symptoms of Leukemia include : Paleness, Lethargy, Prolonged recurrent fevers, Easy bruising, Poor concentration, Weight loss and Bone aches / pain.


Brain and CNS tumours are the most common solid tumours in children. Tumours are formed when cells in the brain or nervous system start to grow abnormally and clump together, disrupting normal brain function.


Lymphoma is a cancer that grows in certain cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. There are two main types of Lymphoma: Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s, the latter being more common in children.


Survival rates are 87% for Leukemia; 96% for lymphomas and 68% for Brain and Central Nervous System Tumours.


But, the struggle with cancer goes beyond mere survival.


Treatment for cancer can impact the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children. They may experience mood swings or confusion about their diagnosis and their parents' reactions.


Children have to stop school temporarily during their treatment for cancer. Parents need to consider positive ways to engage and occupy the children. Close coordination with the child’s school is fundamental to achieving successful reintegration after treatment.


Children and their families can often suffer from anxiety over the long-term effects of illness & treatment.


Parents of children affected by cancer may experience strain and tension in their relationship due to the stress of taking care of their child during treatment. Stress may be increased if an employer is not fully supportive.


In my next post, I’ll write more about what the Children’s Cancer Foundation does to enhance the lives of children, and their families, impacted by cancer.


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Sources of facts and data used in this post:

Singapore Cancer Registry

Children’s Cancer Foundation


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