Childhood cancer in India: battling the forgotten sarcoma

Childhood cancer in India: battling the forgotten sarcoma

Childhood cancer, especially sarcoma, is a serious issue in India.

Childhood cancer is a growing concern in India, where approximately 40,000 new cases of childhood cancer are reported every year. Of these, sarcoma is a particularly challenging and often overlooked category of cancer. This article explores the landscape of childhood cancer in India, what sarcomas are, and highlights why they are called “forgotten cancers” and the lack of awareness around early detection and limb-saving surgery. Throws light on important issues. Affected children.

childhood cancer in india

Childhood cancer includes a variety of fatal diseases that affect individuals under the age of 18. These cancers can appear in a variety of forms, including leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, and sarcoma. While the overall incidence of childhood cancers is relatively low compared to adult cancers, they present unique challenges due to their aggressive nature and the susceptibility of young patients.

Sarcoma – the forgotten cancer

Sarcomas are a group of rare cancers that arise in the body’s connective tissues, such as bones, muscles, and soft tissues. They can occur at any age, but in children, they are even rarer, accounting for about 15% of childhood cancer cases. Sarcomas are challenging to diagnose and treat because they often present with non-specific symptoms, and healthcare providers may not immediately suspect cancer in children.

Why are they called forgotten cancers?

Sarcomas are given this nickname because they receive significantly less attention and funding than more common childhood cancers such as leukemia. Limited awareness and research funding hinders progress in the understanding and treatment of sarcoma, putting affected children at a disadvantage.

Lack of awareness and early detection

One of the most important issues in tackling childhood sarcoma in India is the lack of awareness. Many parents and healthcare providers are unaware of the existence of these rare cancers, leading to delayed diagnosis. Delayed detection can significantly impact a child’s prognosis and treatment options, as early-stage sarcomas are often more treatable.

organ saving surgery

Sarcomas affecting organs can lead to amputation if not treated promptly and effectively. However, invasive surgeries, such as limb-salvage procedures and innovative reconstructive techniques, have the potential to preserve the child’s quality of life, growth, and mobility. Unfortunately, the lack of specialized pediatric oncology centers in India and expertise in such surgeries is a significant barrier for many families.


Childhood cancer, especially sarcoma, is a serious issue in India. Lack of awareness about these rare cancers, delayed detection and limited access to organ-saving surgeries are major challenges that need to be addressed. Raising awareness, advocating for research funding, and improving health care infrastructure can make a significant difference in the lives of young cancer patients and their families, ultimately helping them fight the “forgotten cancer.”

Written by Dr. Srimanta BS, Lead Consultant – Orthopedic Oncology, Manipal Comprehensive Cancer Center Manipal Hospital, Old Airport Road Bengaluru

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