Prepared by the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group and sponsored by CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa.

In less developed countries, very few children receive effective treatment for Childhood Cancer.  One major reason for this is that, if the disease is diagnosed at all, it is frequently at such a late stage as to make the prognosis for successful treatment very poor.

In South Africa, there are several excellent treatment centres, which use internationally accepted protocols, and achieve results comparable to hospitals in North America and Europe for similar stages of diagnosis of the illness. However, in some of the communities, there may be over 80% of children diagnosed with tumours in the late stages, compared with some 15% in developed countries. In an attempt to improve this situation, the South African Children’s Cancer Study Group, which includes all of  the specialist paediatric oncologists in the country, has prepared a set of Warning Signs. These have been made into posters, in English and Zulu, which are being distributed to the Primary Health Care Clinics across the country, starting initially in the northernmost provinces.

A toll-free help line has been installed at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where the sisters or doctors at the primary health clinics can phone for advice as to whether the child needs to be referred for further investigation, and which unit they should be sent to. Dr Stelios Poyiadjis, one of the specialist paediatric oncologists at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (in Soweto, Johannesburg), has been very instrumental in the development of these Warning Signs.  He has visited the staff in the primary health care clinics to educate them about the Warning Signs. The English version of the poster is shown below; a Zulu version is also available. The posters that are distributed to the primary health care clinics are of A2 size, and have high quality printing.  (The representation of an A2 poster into the small image shown above obviously degrades the apparent quality). The printing of the posters, and the funding of the toll free line, has been sponsored by the national parent organisation in South Africa, the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa. The St Siluan Warning Signs have been accepted by SIOP for use in all developing countries.

warning signs for cancer in children