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Child Cancer

Child Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Types & Treatment

Child Cancer

Child Cancer is a leading cause of death for children and adolescents around the world and approximately 300,000 children aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer each year. Childhood cancer generally cannot be prevented or screened. Most childhood cancers can be cured with generic medicines and other forms of treatments including surgery and radiotherapy.

The color gold symbolizes how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes. Unlike other awareness ribbons which symbolize one specific disease, the childhood cancer ribbon stands for dozens of diseases.

What Causes Cancer in Children?

Cancer caused in children is generally genetically changed leading to out-of-control growth of a single cell that bears the capability to invade other distant tissues as well. Childhood cancer is made up of over a dozen different types and countless subtypes. Cancer in children can begin virtually anywhere in the body.

What are the Different Types of Child Cancer?

The most common types of cancer diagnosed in children ages 0 to 14 years are

  • Leukemias,– Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), is a rare type of leukemia that is neither chronic nor acute. It starts in myeloid cells, but it usually doesn’t grow as fast as AML or as slowly as CML. It occurs most often in young children (average age of 2 years).
  • Brain and other central nervous systems (CNS) tumors – A child brain or spinal cord tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord. There are many types of childhood brain and spinal cord tumors. The tumors are formed by the abnormal growth of cells and may begin in different areas of the brain or spinal cord.

The tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign brain tumors may grow and press on nearby areas of the brain. They rarely spread into other brain tissue. Malignant brain tumors may be low-grade or high-grade. High-grade tumors are likely to grow quickly and spread into other brain tissue. Low-grade tumors tend to grow and spread more slowly than high-grade tumors. When a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from working the way it should. Both benign and malignant brain tumors can cause signs or symptoms, need treatment, and can recur 

  • Lymphomas

Lymphoma is a type of cancer. It develops when white blood cells called lymphocytes grow in an uncontrolled way.

Lymphoma is the third most common child cancer– but it is still rare. Every year in the UK, around 160 children under 15 are diagnosed with lymphoma. Around 2 in 3 of these are boys and 1 in 3 are girls.

  • Bone tumor

A bone tumor is a lump or mass of bone that forms when cells divide and form new cells at a much more rapid pace than usual. Most bone tumors are benign and do not spread to other parts of the body. But they can cause pain, weaken the bone, and increase the risk of fracture (broken bone).

There are different types of bone tumors. The most common types include osteochondromas, giant cell tumors, non-ossifying fibromas, and osteoid osteomas.

Signs and Symptoms:

Child cancer is sometimes hard to recognize because common illnesses or everyday bumps and bruises can mask the early warning signs. Take a closer look at the top five cancers found in children and the warning signs for each.

Symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL): Age 2-4yrs

  • Bone and joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of Brain Tumors:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Vision, hearing, or speech problems
  • Frequent vomiting

Symptoms of Neuroblastoma

  • Impaired ability to walk
  • Changes in eyes (bulging, dark circles, droopy eyelids)
  • Pain in various locations of the body
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Wilms Tumors (Kidney Cancer in Children)

  • Swelling or lump in the belly
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite

Symptoms of Lymphoma

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Weakness

Symptoms of Bone Tumor

  • pain in a bone (the most common symptom)
  • stiffness, swelling, or tenderness around a bone or joint.
  • interference with normal movements.
  • weak bones, leading to fractures.
  • fatigue, fever, weight loss, anemia.

What is the Survival Rate of Child Cancer?

In the last 40 years, the overall survival rate for children’s cancer has increased from 10% to nearly 90% today, but for many more rare childhood cancers, the survival rate is much less. (still, 12% of children who are diagnosed with cancer do not survive.)

Treating Children With Cancer:-

Treatment for childhood cancer is based mainly on the type and stage (extent) of cancer. The main types of treatment used for childhood cancer are:

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation therapy
  3. Chemotherapy (chemo)

Child Cancer treatment is no longer just chemotherapy and radiation.

  1. Targeted therapy
  2. Immunotherapy

A cure is not enough. Surviving childhood cancer brings its own set of complications. Side effects of cancer treatments can be more severe and longer lasting. Children who have had cancer will need careful medical follow-up for the rest of their lives. Advancements in treatment have increased survival rates. However, the treatment can lead to late-term effects including chronic health conditions or struggles with learning and cognitive impairment.

How Can Parents Help?

The main goal when treating kids with cancer is to cure them. While treatment may cause side effects, many medicines and therapies can make kids more comfortable while they’re treated for Child Cancer. When possible, involve kids with their cancer treatment. Psychologists, social workers, and other members of the cancer treatment team can be a great help in reassuring them and helping them cope with their feelings. Having a child being treated for cancer can feel overwhelming for any family. But you’re not alone. Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit helps you and your kid to cope with this situation.

Dr Sajjan Rajpurohit

Best cancer specialist in Delhi, Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit has been a practicing physician for the past 22 years and is currently working as Director in the Medical Oncology at BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi. He is also a European certified as Best Medical Oncologist in Delhi, India, ESMO, Geneva. Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit is acknowledged as a versatile veteran in treating various types of cancers. A qualified MBBS with MD in Medicine and DNB in Medical Oncology.