Childhood cancer is much rarer than in adults, seeing much fewer cases every year in the US. Just like in adults, cancer can affect any part of the body, and the survival rate will be determined by how quickly it is caught.
According to recent statistics from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), about 10,590 kids under 15 and 5,000 adolescents aged 15-19 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. Thankfully, these figures represent a small fraction of the population, with the survival rates increasing all the time due to advances in medical treatments.
As mentioned above, catching the disease early will have an impact on the success of the treatment and increase the chance of living a full life.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer happens when healthy cells change and start developing abnormally. These cells attack the healthy cells and tissues of the affected organ. If left untreated, the cancer cells will destroy the affected organ and may spread to other areas of the body.
In kids, cancer is a little bit different. It isn’t clear why kids can get cancer, but the treatment is generally more successful than in adults.
Different Types of Childhood Cancer
ASCO reported that leukemia is the most prevalent form of childhood cancer, closely followed by brain and spinal cord tumors. In teenagers, Hodgkin Lymphoma and Thyroid are the most common kinds of cancer.
Childhood cancer looks and acts differently than adult cancers. In many kinds of cancer, a tumor will be formed as the cancerous cells take over the affected area.
Leukemia – this cancer starts in the bone marrow and then spreads into the blood. It disrupts the healthy production of red and white blood cells as well as platelets. There are several different types of leukemia which act in different ways. The treatment is long, but survival rates are much higher than they used to be.
Things to Look Out For
Cancer doesn’t always present easily noticeable symptoms, which makes it hard to diagnose it. However, there are a few things which you should try and look out for:
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Chronic Headaches
- Excessive bruising or unexplained bleeding
- Chronic infections and fevers
- Constant tiredness
- Extreme Nausea
If you have any concerns, you should seek medical attention immediately as prompt treatment can make a massive difference.
Finding out your child has cancer is hugely traumatic for everyone in the family. However, treatment is much more effective than in the past. It is hard, but your oncologist and health care team will help you every step of the way.
Once the oncologist has diagnosed cancer, they will put together a treatment plan which will usually involve some form of Chemotherapy. Also, the health care team will be on hand to offer coping strategies to help the child and their family deal with this difficult news.
Treatment is different for every type of cancer, but in the case of leukemia, you are looking at around a two- or three-year treatment period.