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Background: Childhood cancer is attracting public health attention in Sub-Saharan Africa because of its’ increasing contribution to morbidity and mortality, and the changing pattern in relative frequency and diagnostic challenges in resources poor settings. The objective of the study was to determine the pattern of malignant childhood tumours in Jos, North-central Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: Records of childhood malignancies diagnosed over a 10 year period was obtained from the hospital cancer registry. Archival paraffin embedded, formalin fixed tissue blocks were retrieved and fresh sections cut and stained with Haematoxylin and Eosin. The slides were reviewed and the histopathological pattern, age, sex and anatomical site of distribution of the tumours were analyzed.
Results: There were 210 cases of childhood malignancies during the period of the study. The male: female ratio was 1.5:1. Mesenchymal tumours predominated (66%), followed by epithelial tumours (32%) and germ cell tumors which accounted for 2% of cases. Soft tissue sarcomas, lymphomas, nephroblastoma and retinoblastoma were the four most common tumours. Together they accounted for 88% of all cases. Soft tissue sarcoma was the most common tumour group with 77 cases (37%). Rhabdomyosarcoma was the most common of them accounting for 88% of the soft tissue sarcomas. The second most common group of tumours was lymphoma 52(25%) cases: out of which Burkitt’s lymphoma accounted for 64%, non Burkitts non Hodkins lymphomas 31% while Hodgkins Lymphoma had 6%. Retinoblastoma and nephroblastoma occurred among the very young children while STS and lymphomas predominated in the older children.
Conclusion: There is a change in the histopathological pattern of childhood solid malignancies in our environment. Sarcomas are diagnosed more often, a departure from the past where lymphomas were commoner. However Burkitt’s lymphoma is still an important and common childhood cancer.