Common Childhood Cancers – Types, Signs And Treatment

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The devastating effect a terminal disease can have on children and their families are unfathomable. It is indeed a painful situation; however, understanding how to cope with it can be quite comforting especially if it is your kid that has been affected.

It is always helpful to be educated on the subject, even if your child is diagnosed or not diagnosed with the deadly disease. Read our post to know the signs and symptoms of most common childhood cancer.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a word that strikes terror in most people, and it can strike ANYONE, regardless of social status, upbringing, geographical or physiological factors. Cancer usually begins in the cells of your child’s body.

  • While there are new cells that form and replace the old one, there are times when this biological process goes haywire.
  • Sometimes, new cells form when you do not really need them while old cells that should die, do not.

However, it should be noted that cancer in children usually occurs early and can be cured with a high rate of success.

[ Read : Tuberculosis In Children ]

Types Of Common Pediatric Cancers:

There are usually three types of cancer that your child could be most susceptible to:

1. Sarcomas:

Cancer of the bones, tissues or organs, commonly referred to as a solid tumor. It can best be described as a lump of sick cells that are found merged together.

  • These tumors can develop in quite a few areas of the body, including the liver, bones, kidneys and even the brain.
  • Therefore, the ‘sick’ cells trump the healthy ones.

Types Of Sarcomas:

  • Neuroblastoma
  • Ewing Sarcoma
  • Wilms Tumors

2. Leukemia:

Cancer of the blood, Leukemia is common among children and is the cancer of the white blood cells.

  • These white blood cells usually form in the bone marrow which aids in the manufacture of red blood cells (carries oxygen and nutrients), white blood cells (fights germs and infections) as well as platelets (prevents bleeding).
  • Leukemia cells are immune blood cells that do not function properly and prevent the healthy blood cells from working properly.

Types Of Leukemia:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia

[ Read : Torticollis In Children ]

3. Lymphoma:

It is cancer of the immune system. The body has its own defense mechanism, called the all-mighty immune system, Lymphoma affects this very system.

  • The immune system wields its power and destroys unhealthy cells in your child’s body.
  • It replaces unhealthy cells with fighter cells known as lymphocytes, in lymphoid tissues in your kid’s body.
  • When the sick cells are unable to function properly and crowd out the healthy cells in immune system, your kid will develop Lymphoma or cancer of the immune system.

Types Of Lymphoma:

  • Hodgkin disease
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Symptoms of Childhood Cancers:

How do you figure out if your child has been hit by cancer? Here are some symptoms to watch out for. Remember, an early diagnosis increases the chances of your kid being cured. Some common symptoms include:

  • Unexplained weight loss which may continue for a prolonged period of time.
  • Headaches coupled with early morning nausea.
  • Swelling or persistent pain in the joints, bones, legs or even the back.
  • Development of a mass or lump in the abdomen, pelvis, neck, chest or even the armpits.
  • Increased or excessive bruising, bleeding, development of a nasty rash.
  • Frequent and persistent infections.
  • Whitish development behind the pupil.
  • Vomiting without nausea.
  • Tiredness or paleness that is noticeable.
  • Eye/vision changes that occur suddenly and persist for a period of time.
  • Fevers that recur or persist during a period of time without a definite origin.

[ Read : Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ]

Treatments For Cancer In Children:

While there is cause for worry if your child happens to be diagnosed with cancer, there is always hope that the right treatment can bring out a definite cure.

  • Cancer in kids differ and have to be treated differently, depending on what the doctor feels is the best and necessary course of action.
  • Your kid could receive a particular kind of treatment or a combination of various treatments based upon the plan decided by you and the doctor in charge.

Listed below are some viable treatment options for child cancer:

1. Chemotherapy:

It refers to the medication that is used to destroy the cancer cells in the body. These medicines are given for the following reasons:

  • To treat cancers that respond positively to chemotherapy.
  • To reduce the tumor, thereby making it easier to safely remove it with the help of surgery.
  • To ensure that the other cancer-killing treatments like radiation therapy work effectively and produce the desired results.
  • To control the spread of cancer to ensure that your child lives a long, healthy life with no serious complications or side-effects.

2. Surgery:

It also plays a pivotal role in the treatment process depending on the extent, type and even the location of the cancer in the body. A healthcare team could in some cases extract a solid tumor from the body.

Types Of Surgeries:

1. Open Surgery: This is performed on a specific part of the body by making a large cut and then removing the tumor.

2. Minimal Invasive Surgery: Small incisions are made by the doctor on your child as opposed to large, deep cuts which is common in open surgeries.

3. Primary Surgery: It helps in the removal of the tumor at one go. However, radiation or chemotherapy may work the best in most cases when the tumor is quite large.

4. Supportive Care Procedures: These procedures will help your child cope with the treatments he/she has to undergo to remove the tumor.

3. Radiation:

This is one of the most effective ways to remove the cancerous tumor from your child’s body.

  • With radiation, doctors aim to shrink the tumor before surgery helps in its removal from the body.
  • For children, most radiation plans are tailored to suit their needs by the team of oncologists that are treating them.
  • The use of special computers help monitor the machines used in the process.
  • And no, radiation will not make your child radioactive after it is completed.
  • Radiation can be delivered in two ways: Externally and Internally
  • However, most radiation therapy is delivered externally especially when dealing with pediatric cancer.
  • During the external radiation therapy, radiation beams are emitted from a machine known as a linear accelerator.
  • These beams target the tumor in the body. The best part of the therapy is that your child will not see or feel it.

[ Read:  Dwarfism In Children ]

Do have faith, as cancer is largely durable these days. We hope that the information provided will help you on your child’s journey to effectively combat cancer in its initial stages.

If you found the article useful in any way, we would appreciate feedback.

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