Childhood cancer makes up less than 1% of all the diagnosed cancers each year. Childhood cancer or pediatric cancer is when cancer cells start developing in children under the age of 15. It’s different from the cancers in adult because unlike adult cancers, childhood cancers are often the result of DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life, sometimes even before birth. Leukemia in children among with brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors and lymphomas are the most common types of pediatric cancers.
Some Childhood Cancer Facts
Here are some childhood cancer facts that will help you be aware and spread awareness among others:
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children between 0 to 14 years of age.
- Approximately 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before the age of 20.
- In 2017, an estimated 10,270 children of age between 0 to 14 years will be diagnosed with cancer, and 1,190 are expected to die from the disease.
Source: Childhood Cancers
Difference Between Adult and Childhood Cancer
Unlike many cancers in adult, childhood cancers cannot be linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors. Usually, they are often linked to changes in certain genes (mutations) passed from parent to child. However, not all children with mutations get cancer.
The type of cancer, how far it spreads, and how it’s treated is often different than the adult cancers. The way children’s body respond to the treatment is also unique and the chance of recovery is high in the children.
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5 Things to Know About Childhood Cancer
Cancer happens when the cells in some part of your body starts to develop unusually and crowd out normal cells. How actually it occurs in children remains unknown. Studies so far suggest it happens due to the changes in the child’s genes. Usually, as a warning sign, they form unyielding lumps that appear more often on the neck, armpits, groin, and abdomen. Knowing more about childhood cancer can help you identify its occurrence in a child and help him/her to get diagnosed earlier and receive the treatment as soon and as fast as possible.
Where It Affects: Cancer in children affects blood cells, lymph system, brain, liver, and bones. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) affects blood and is the most common type. It’s a cancer of blood and bone marrow in which the bone marrow starts creating too many immature lymphocytes.
How It Spreads: In more than 80% of the cases of cancer in kids, cancer has already spread to the other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed. That’s why it’s necessary to begin the treatment in child cancer right away.
How It’s Treated: Treatment of cancer in children are somewhat similar to that of adult cancers. It includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, medicines, immunotherapy, stem cell transplants, and surgery. It’s the amount of therapy, type of medicine, and the need of surgery that differ from the adult cancers. In many cases, children respond better than adults. They also often handle higher doses of chemo for shorter periods before the side effects occur.
Side Effects and Late Effects: The growing bodies of children can be affected differently by cancer and its treatments, and may respond differently to drugs too. The side effects can be rash, pain, and upset stomach whereas, as the late effects, the organ and tissue and their function may be affected causing the delay in body growth. It can also become a reason to form another cancer later on.
Follow-up Care for Survivors: Cancer and its treatment have a long-lasting impact on the children both emotionally and physically. Therefore, it’s essential for childhood cancer survivors to receive follow-up care to monitor their health after completing the treatment. The late effects that can develop after months or years of treatment vary with the cancer type, child’s age, types of treatment, and other factors.
These childhood cancer facts will level up your awareness about childhood cancer or pediatric cancer, and help you in spreading awareness about it among others.
If you find the information in this blog useful, share it with others and also share your views and insights on childhood cancer in the comments section below.
Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.