Childhood Cancer and Treatment Options
Learning that your child has cancer is devastating and can seem like all hope is gone. Luckily, childhood cancers are rare and, according to The American Cancer Society, make up less than 1% of all cancers diagnosed each year, and up to 70% of children with cancer can be cured. That being said, it is still a critical time for a family and, the more resources available, the better the prognosis will be.
What Exactly is Cancer?
Cancer is when the body’s cells grow out of control and irregularly. Normal cells have certain distinctions in terms of where they grow, how much they grow, and even how long they live. When a person has cancer, their cells multiply rapidly but without boundaries, thus allowing these mutated cells to attack the body and deplete its reserves.
Childhood cancers are rare and make up less than 1% of all cancers diagnosed each year; up to 70% of children with cancer can be cured.
While adult cancer and childhood cancer have the same basic disease process, there are other factors that set them apart. Environmental factors such as smoking and alcohol use play a significant role in developing adult cancer, whereas childhood cancers tend to be more unexpected and less explainable. Ineffective prevention of gene mutations in growing cells are responsible for childhood cancer.
While adults can develop different types of cancers, some cancers are specific only to children. Although there are many types of cancers, they can all be grouped under the terms benign, which refers to non-cancerous cells, and malignant, which refers to cells that are cancerous.
The Most Common Forms of Childhood Cancer
- Although Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, it is quick rare. This type of cancer is comprised of cells invading the bone marrow and preventing new, healthy white blood cells from forming. These cells also crowd out platelets that allow the blood to clot and red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the blood.
- Brain cancer is when a cluster of abnormal cells develop on or around the brain. Brain cancer can either start in the brain or start somewhere else and spread to the brain.
- Lymphoma cancers originate in the lymphatic system, which includes the spleen, tonsils, and thymus (gland in the upper chest). These cancers create tumors that enlarge the lymph nodes that compromises the immune system. Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s disease are both forms of lymphoma cancer.