Cancer in Children
 
 

Cancer in Children

Cancer in KidsChildren are more prone to a specific group of cancers that are different than those most commonly seen in adults. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 11,630 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

Risk Factors for Childhood Cancers

The majority of childhood cancers involve DNA mutations that occur early in life or prior to birth and are less linked to lifestyle or environmental factors than are adult cancers. In addition to genetic factors, some environmental factors such as radiation exposure or second-hand smoke may play a role in the development of certain childhood cancers.

The most common types of childhood cancers by percentage include:

Leukemia - blood and bone marrow cancer
  • 31% of total childhood cancers, 84% of patients live with leukemia at least five years after diagnosis
CNS - brain and spinal cord cancer
  • 25% of total childhood cancers, 71% of patients live with CNS cancer at least five years after diagnosis
Neuroblastoma - nerve cell cancer
  • 6% of total childhood cancers, 75% of patients live with neuroblastoma at least five years after diagnosis
Wilms tumor - kidney cancer
  • 5% of total childhood cancers, 89% of patients live with Wilms tumor at least five years after diagnosis
Hodgkin lymphoma - lymphocyte cancer
  • 4% of total childhood cancers, 96% of patients live with Hodgkin lymphoma at least five years after diagnosis
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma - lymphocyte cancer
  • 4% of total childhood cancers, 86% of patients live with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at least five years after diagnosis
Osteosarcoma - bone cancer
  • 3% of total childhood cancers, 71% of patients live with osteosarcoma at least five years after diagnosis
Rhabdomyosarcoma - skeletal muscle cancer
  • 3% of total childhood cancers, 68% of patients live with rhabdomyosarcoma at least five years after diagnosis
Retinoblastoma - eye cancer
  • 2% of total childhood cancers, 98% of patients live with retinoblastoma at least five years after diagnosis
Ewing sarcoma - bone cancer
  • 1% of total childhood cancers, 75% of patients live with Ewing sarcoma at least five years after diagnosis

Treating Children with Cancer

While childhood cancers tend to respond better to chemotherapy (and children’s bodies also seem to handle chemo better) there is a concern about both the short-term and long-term side effects of treatments like chemo and radiation. After treatment, follow-up exams are essential, not only to ensure that the cancer has not returned but to gauge any side effects of treatment that may not show up for several years. Possible late effects include:

  • Slowed growth
  • Cardiovascular or respiratory problems
  • Delayed sexual development
  • Learning difficulties
  • Increased risk of other cancers

How Families Can Cope

Having a child who is diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. However, there are a variety of resources available to help you and your family cope with the diagnosis, communicate with your child about his or her illness and navigate the treatment process. The important thing is to educate yourself about your child’s condition so that you can have an open and informed discussion with his or her doctor about the prognosis and best available treatment options. The American Cancer Society offers a variety of helpful resources to assist families dealing with childhood cancer.

Learn More About Pediatric Oncology at BayCare

BayCare is proud of the innovative pediatric oncology program at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida. To learn more, please call (855) 314-8346 or find a doctor near you.

Learn more about pediatric cancer services for:

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