September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

| September 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

KAILUA — Nahla Nepaulsingh, 4, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, is the youngest cancer survivor at the annual Relay For Life of Windward Oahu in July 2015. (Photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications)

William Sallette
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs
HONOLULU — Every year across the nation more than 15,000 will hear the words, “Your child has cancer.”

Cancer is a very stressful diagnosis that affects all ages, ethnic groups and socioeconomic classes.

Cancer is the No. 1 death by disease in children.

Over the last half-century, the number of children diagnosed with cancer has not decreased, but with major advances in medical treatment, survival rates have dramatically improved.

“We generally average about 15-20 new patients a year,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Edwards, Department of Pediatric chief and assistant chief of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Tripler Army Medical Center.

The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6 years of age with more than 40 children diagnosed every day. The cause of cancer in children is still unknown, and even though new treatments are being developed daily to combat this disease, help sometimes doesn’t come soon enough.

Compared to 50 years ago, up to 90 percent of children who receive a diagnosis of cancer survive. That is an increase of 80 percent. However, they are commonly plagued with late-effects such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.

“The chemotherapy we use to cure cancer can actually lead to a secondary, therapy-related, cancer later in life for some children,” said Edwards. “Around 90 percent of children who receive therapy for cancer will have some type of long-term effect they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.”

According to Edwards, many different cancers affect children each year, but Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, brain and other central nervous system tumors, and Neuroblastoma account for more than half of all new diagnoses.

“The most common type of cancer in all children is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells,” said Edwards. “This makes up around 60 percent of all childhood cancers. However, over the past year we have treated patients with leukemia, colon cancer, kidney cancer and muscle cancer, just to name a few.”

Since many treatments for adult cancer can be detrimental for children, the Tripler Pediatric Oncology Clinic and the Adult Medical Oncology Clinic work side-by-side during diagnosis and treatment.

“There is often less funding for pediatric cancer research, so we rely on cooperative research groups to determine the state-of-the art therapy,” said Edwards. “We work closely with the adult medical oncology physicians to determine the best treatment course, regardless of age.

“Sometimes we take over care of the adult patient and our adult colleagues will take over care of the younger patient,” he continued. “The key to the relationship is the teamwork and respect that we all have for each other here at Tripler.”

Learn More
For more information on childhood cancers, go to www.


Tripler focuses on care

Satisfaction is key

“When I think about satisfaction, I think of three things: patient satisfaction, visitor satisfaction and staff satisfaction.

Col. Mattison

We are a health care organization. We do our best to provide optimal care to the patients and make sure they are happy and satisfied, but anyone that has had a loved one sick in the hospital knows, it’s also critical to ensure our visitors are satisfied,” said Col. Parnell Mattison, Tripler Army Medical Center’s deputy commander for Medical Services.

“They need to be able to find their loved ones, get meals when they need them, etc. The staff satisfaction really serves as the foundation for their subsequent engagement and health care delivery.”

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