leukemia early detection

“#BeLeukemiaAware: Early Diagnosis Saves Lives” is an advocacy tagline by the Acute Leukemia Advocates Network (ALAN) which aims to raise awareness about the early signs and symptoms of leukemia, and encourage public support for cancer research. Last September, we celebrated the “World Leukemia Awareness Month” and the “Blood Cancer Awareness Month” to raise awareness on early diagnosis of Leukemia which can save lives. Leukemia is considered to be among the top 5 killer-cancer in the Philippines with around 4,270 new cases diagnosed and 3,386 leukemia-caused deaths reported as of 2015. Among the leukemias, the most common type is lymphoid leukemia which is highest among Filipino children and among the elderly over 70 years old with a 5-year survival rate of only 5.2%. This is considered to be low and factors that may contribute are: delay in diagnosis or diagnosis of the disease at a later stage, lack of financial support for treatment and other patient related factors such as age and other comorbidities. Thus, awareness of the signs and symptoms of leukemia may prompt individuals to seek consultation, get diagnosed and receive treatment early which can lead to better outcomes.

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer where white blood cells have uncontrolled growth which may hinder the production of red blood cells and other cells needed for the transport of nutrients and oxygen in the body. This may lead to symptoms such as easy fatigability, recurrent infections and unintended weight loss.


Nutrition and Pediatric Cancer Lancet

Image Source: The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health

Last September, we observed the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the World Leukemia Awareness Month which aims to increase awareness about childhood cancers and to raise funds for research and treatment for children with cancer. Overall survival and quality of life are increased when these cancers are detected and treated early. But when should we suspect children to have cancer? Could malnutrition be a possible early sign of cancer in children?

According to Kliegman et al. (2020), “The most common manifestations of childhood cancer are fatigue, lack of appetite, feeling sick, pain, fever, abnormal lump or mass, paleness, bruising, bleeding, headache, vomiting, visual changes, weight loss, and night sweats”. Even though these symptoms are not specific, they should warrant a consultation with a pediatrician for further assessment.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This September, we are observing the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which aims to increase awareness about childhood cancers and to raise funds for research and treatment for children with cancer. The most common types of childhood cancers in the Philippines are: Leukemias (cancer related to the blood), Lymphomas, Brain Tumors, Bone Tumors and Abdominal Tumors. One of the factors that contribute to the development of childhood cancers are genetic processes that occur during the first 1000 days. For example, advanced maternal age of 40 years old and above have a higher risk of giving birth to children with Down Syndrome - a condition where an individual has an extra chromosome. When combined with other environmental exposures such as radiation during pregnancy, drugs, and carcinogenic agents from cigarette smoking - the child is 10 - 20 x more at risk of developing Leukemia when they reach 2 - 6 years old. Childhood cancers are considered multifactorial which means that they develop due to the interplay of genetic factors and high-risk environmental exposures. Thus, by controlling the environmental exposures during the first 1000 days and early childhood, we could also lower the risk of developing childhood cancers. Here are some strategies that we can do during the first 1000 days to prevent childhood cancers:

DCNPC XI Meeting

September 29, 2021- The D/CNPC XI Federation Officers and D/C/MNPCs of the Davao Region gathered virtually for a meeting last September 29, 2021. The 2nd regional virtual meeting was successfully facilitated by the National Nutrition Council XI staff and Regional Program Coordinator Dr. Maria Teresa L. Ungson.

The meeting agenda included the updates on the D/C/M/NPC status of funds of the D/C/MNPC, the approved 2021 RNC Resolutions, the issuance of the BNS ID Cards, and other matters.

D/C/MNPC President Lynette Demaisip presented the status report of the current funds of the federation and the list of active members who continually settle their accounts annually. D/C/MNPC President also discussed their concerns, ideas, and opinions on other possible resource generation activity. One major concern during the discussion is how to generate income for the federations without compromising the members' time. The Municipality Nutrition Coordinator Bhenzar Sam of Maco, Davao De Oro, suggested hosting an event wherein CPD units and registration fees would apply for the licensed participants. RNPC Ungson then advised verifying the proposed idea of MNC Sam as the process for hosting this kind of event with CPD units with NNC CO or PRC XI.

2nd Nutrition Cluster Meeting28 September 2021, Davao City – The Regional Nutrition Cluster of Davao region convenes virtually for its 2nd meeting of the year. The National Nutrition Council XI facilitated the conduct of the virtual meeting via Google meet, with Regional Program Coordinator Dr. Maria Teresa L. Ungson Nutrition Cluster- Lead Chair of Region XI Nutrition Cluster.

The meeting discussion includes the presentation of the approved RNC Resolutions for Nutrition in Emergencies, Nutrition Cluster initiatives/actions in response to COVID 19 and status of programs and activities of selected sectors, and the Regional Nutrition Cluster planning matrices.

NO II Jickain presented the highlights and next steps of the recently approved RNC resolutions of region XI particularly the RNC Resolution No. 8, series of 2021 “Enjoining all LGUs of Davao Region to Organize a Local Nutrition Cluster” and RNC Resolution No. 9, series of 2021 “Resolution on Nutrition Sector support to Household Food Security through Food Resiliency in Region XI” approved last September 6, 2021.

2nd BNS Onse Meeting

September 27, 2021 -The Regional Barangay Nutrition Scholar(BNS) ONSE Federation Officers gathered for the 2nd Regional meeting for this year. The National Nutrition Council XI staff with Regional Program Coordinator Dr. Maria Teresa L. Ungson facilitated the virtual meeting via google meet.

The meeting agenda includes some updates on the 2022 BNS ONSE Plans, Projects, & Activities, the rundown of the newly approved 2021 RNC resolutions highlighting Resolution No. 7 Series of 2021, BNS Regional Evaluation, Issuance of BNS ID-CARDS, Status of the BNS Onse Funds, and other matters.

Dr. Maria Teresa L. Ungson first presented to the BNS officers the compensation the Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) which can be claimed if proven the BHWs acquired COVID-19 during their render of service. Part of this presentation is the application process, the necessary documents needed, and the amount of compensation depending on the severity of the COVID case. Aside from this, Dr. Ungson informed the BNS ONSE officers that the National Nutrition Council Central Office is already discussing the matter with the Department of Health (DOH) to include the BNS in these benefits.