Topic of the Month: Pediatric Cancer
Unfortunately, childhood illness is not relegated to prenatal conditions, miscarriages, and stillborn. Since Walk In Sunshine seeks to be a resource for parents, we will be starting to introduce more information about other types of childhood illness. Please know that your donations go to support families who have lost a young one from any kind of disease.
Today, we will speak about pediatric cancer.
While childhood cancers only make up less than 1 percent of cancers diagnosed each year, more than 10,000 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15 in 2019. Significant medical advances have contributed to an 80 percent five-year survival rate for children developing these cancers. Keeping that in mind, it’s essential to have a working knowledge of pediatric cancer’s development and various symptoms.
Unsurprisingly, the cancers that typically occur in adults can vastly differ from what we see happening. Adult cancers can be generally associated with lifestyle and genetic factors, while childhood cancers are associated with genetic factors. A few common childhood cancers include leukemia, brain, and spinal cord tumors, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, retinoblastoma, and bone cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
Numerous studies have been authored to discuss the impact of environmental factors on the development of childhood cancers. While some behaviors have seen to contribute to cancers, like smoking, there is no definitive proof, and more studies need to be completed.
The more significant risk factor in developing childhood cancer is genetic. DNA changes inherited from parents can have a high impact on contracting childhood cancer. Another factor is the acquired mutation. An acquired mutation occurs during the developmental stage of a child’s life where a mutated cell can change others, thus causing a chain reaction.
Signs and Symptoms
While the signs and symptoms of childhood cancers can vary greatly, a few everyday things you should be looking out for include:
An unusual lump or swelling
Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
Ongoing pain in one area of the body
Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
Sudden eye or vision changes
Sudden unexplained weight loss
The three main ways childhood cancer is treated is though surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. There are, of course, exceptions to this like stem-cell therapy, but chemotherapy is often used the most, because of childhood’s cancers rapid and onset development. Unfortunately, chemotherapy can have more severe side-effects with children than adults, so its use is somewhat limited. For more information about childhood cancers, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.