Awareness & Early Detection

CHOC’s Awareness Programme

It is estimated that currently less than half of children with cancer in South Africa are diagnosed, and many of those who are diagnosed are in advanced stage of illness. One of the reasons for this is a lack of awareness and knowledge in parts of the health system regarding the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

As a result, CHOC initiated an Awareness Programme to disseminate the early warning signs that the South African Childhood Cancer Study Group (please hyperlink to the SACCSG website) drew up.

The objectives of the programme include ensuring that all children with cancer in South Africa are diagnosed as early possible and that the early warning signs of childhood cancer are well known in all parts of the health system (including primary health care clinics and all hospitals).

It is also vital to ensure that the awareness of childhood cancer and its symptoms are part of the initial and ongoing training of medical and nursing practitioners. The project further aims to ensure that the referral system, from primary health clinics and secondary hospitals through to the arrival of the child at a specialised treatment centre, functions efficiently and that the process is rapid. At CHOC we also aim at having parents and teachers in all areas of South Africa aware of the early warning signs of childhood cancer and of knowing where to go and what to insist upon when symptoms are recognised.

The envisaged outcomes of the programme are:

  • All children with cancer are diagnosed early (stage 1 and 2) and referred rapidly to the appropriate treatment centre.
  • All medical, nursing and primary health care staff throughout the health system are aware of the symptoms of childhood cancer, and know the appropriate action to take upon diagnosis and referral of the children.
  • The training and ongoing education of doctors, nurses and primary health care workers includes the awareness and symptoms of childhood cancer.
  • The general public, especially those in rural areas, are aware of the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

The programme was initiated in 2011, when CHOC Johannesburg and Pretoria Divisions formed a partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health to roll out a childhood cancer awareness programme in the Gauteng Province. Since then this programme has continued to expand and is headed by a trained nurse, Sr Silvia Craukamp.

By early 2015, CHOC had overseen the training of over 10 000 health professionals, traditional healers, home-based care workers and communities in Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo – as far afield as Venda. Other CHOC regions also run local awareness programmes.

The Saint Siluan Early Warning signs

These early warning signs were drawn up by the South African Childhood Cancer Study Group and they have been adopted by the International Society of Paediatric Oncology. St Siluan was a monk who prayed for humanity ceaselessly.


If you detect any of the warning signs in your child please contact your nearest CHOC region (please hyperlink to where we are page), contact your nearest treatment centre (please hyperlink to treatment page) or SMS the name of your province to 34486, at a cost of R2. A CHOC representative will contact you shortly thereafter.

There is also a TOLL-FREE HELPLINE: 0800 333 555 that sisters and doctors at the primary healthcare clinics can call (hosted at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital) for advice on whether to refer the child for further investigation and to which unit.


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