Are Childhood cancers different from Adult Cancers?

Childhood Cancer

Childhood cancers or Paediatric cancers are biologically different from adult cancers.
They grow faster than most adult cancers.

Factors which trigger cancer or cause childhood cancers are different from those causing adult cancers for example smoking a leading cause of adult lung cancer is not a cause for childhood lung cancer.

Most Paediatric cancers are non hereditary and happen due genetic mutations of growing up cells, though pollution, exposure to radiation, chemicals are also contributory factors in a few cases.

Common cancers in children:

The most common childhood cancer is Leukemia or Blood Cancer. Of all types of blood cancers, ALL is the most common one. It affects children in the age group of 2-6 years.
Other common paediatric cancers are tumours of the brain, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, lymphoma, tumours of the kidney, tumours of the adrenal gland, sarcomas , bone tumours etc.

Symptoms of Childhood Cancers:

  • Unusually High Fever
  • Bruise marks or blue marks on the body
  • Prolonged fever with no established cause
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Nose bleed, gum bleed
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Joint pains
  • Pale palor, accompanied with fever, body ache
  • Swelling in the neck or axilla.
  • Increase in size of lymph nodes, along with cough, fever, weight loss
  • Persistent headache
  • Unusual Redness in the eye
  • Early morning vomiting, loss of appetite
    If you notice any of these, it may be a good idea to plan a visit to the doctor.

Are Childhood cancers curable ?

As childhood cancers grow faster than adult cancers, they are also more responsive to chemotherapy and other forms of treatment.

Depending on the stage of cancer and the spread of cancer, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised.

With advances in medical treatment, it is now possible to save limbs in bone cancers, eyes in retinoblastoma depending upon stage of cancer and response to treatment options.

Most blood cancers in children respond extremely well to chemotherapy and get cured.

Over 70% of childhood cancers get cured. 5 year survival rates for brain tumour are more than 90%, for Hodgkins lymphoma are over 90% and for ALL or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia survival rates are over 80%.

Even after complete cure, regular followups with paediatric oncologists are required for the next couple of years.

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Anaemic ! Could it be You ?

sickle cell anemia

Anaemia is very common medical condition, where the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells or excessively destructs blood cells.
Most people have anaemia due to poor dietary habits and inadequate nutrition while certain forms of anaemia are hereditary.
Some of the early warning signs , which are common across all 400 types of anaemia are:

anemia symptoms
Early warning sign and symptoms that may appear in anemia

Fatigue : The most common warning sign of anaemia is fatigue. It occurs because the body doesn’t have enough Red Blood Cells to carry haemoglobin which contains oxygen to the cells leading to exhaustion.

Pale Skin : Paleness of the skin is usually dependent on the thickness and density of blood vessels below the skin. A lack of red blood cells due to anaemia

A very pale pallor can also be due to sickle cell anaemia ( a medical condition where abnormally shaped red blood cells block the flow of blood).

Swollen or Sore tongue : A big warning sign of anaemia is an anaemia tongue wherein ones tongue gets inflamed due to low iron levels in the body. The surface of the tongue can often smoothen out or your tongue can morph into different shades.

Swollen Hands and feet : Swollen hands and feet are a symptom of sickle cell anaemia. In sickle cell anaemia, the sickle shaped red blood cells clump together and block the flow of blood in the body – leading to the blood flow being cut off from the tissues and organs.

Shortness of breath : This occurs because the red blood cells carrying oxygen have less haemoglobin and less capacity to bind oxygen causing shortness of breath.

Brittle nails : Nails have a protective hard layer called keratin that protects the soft tissue in your nails. Lack of red blood cell production due to anaemia prohibits the growth of nails. Ridges and banding in the nails are often indicators of anaemia.

Appetite for inedible items : Pica is defined as a craving to chew or eat substances of no nutritional value such as ice, paper, chalk, pencils, wall putty etc. These unusual cravings in order to satiate the body’s appetite for iron must not be ignored as it is the first sign of anaemia.

Sickle cell anaemia is a very severe form of anaemia and is often inherited. Although those suffering from anaemia and sickle cell disease suffer from fatigue, pale pallor, shortness of breath, people suffering from just anemia rarely suffer from frequent chest infections or have painful crisis

Sicklers or people suffering from sickle cell anaemia, often have painful crisis situations, when the haemoglobin can even drop to between 1 and 3 leading to even death within few hours.

Sickles often suffer from organ damage and  may need a hip replacement . a shoulder replacement or rarely even a knee replacement.

Although Sickle cell anaemia can be managed with hydroxy urea, if the patients has reached a point where he or she suffers from chest infections, frequent painful crisis, or needs a hip replacement or shoulder replacement, a bone marrow transplant should be considered.

A bone marrow transplant, with matching donors has more than an 85% success rate and is the only possible cure and treatment for sickle cell anaemia.

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Leukemia (Cancer of the Blood)


Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Blood cells originate and develop inside Bone marrow, in bones. Red blood cells serve the purpose of transportation of oxygen and nutrients through blood circulation system inside body.

White blood cells fight germs and infections and platelets help to stop bleeding.  Leukemia is caused when white blood cells multiply uncontrollably and outnumber red blood cells. Leukemias are the most common type of childhood cancers.

Leukemia further classified into:

  1. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and
  2. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

Tomorrow we will cover ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Understanding Blood Cancer and its Treatment Options


leukemia, cell proliferation

Blood Cancer:

Blood cancer originates from bone marrow and interferes with production and functioning of blood cells which are responsible for production of blood.  Stem cells therefore fail to mature into white, red blood cells and platelets through abnormal cancerous cells production hence the blood cannot fight infections or prevent excessive bleeding.

Types of Blood Cancer:

There exists three major types of blood cancer namely:

A) Leukemia:  Leukemia results from production of abnormal white blood cells in large numbers which cannot fight infections thus incapacitating bone marrow in the production or red blood cells and platelets. The main Leukemia’s are Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML),  Myelodysplastic syndrome(MDS)

B) Myeloma: Myeloma cells prevents normal production of antibodies by the plasma cells which fight infections therefore weakening a person’s immune system.

C)Non Hodgkin Lymphoma: In Non Hodgkin Lymphoma or NHL as it is called the lymphatic system generates immune cells after removal of excess body fluids .The cancerous lymphoma cells which are abnormal lymphocytes impair the immune system by collecting in lymph nodes and in body tissues.

Blood Cancer Treatment:

The blood cancer treatment options are chemotherapy to get the disease in remission followed by an bone marrow transplant.

The 2 types of Bone Marrow Transplants are :-

  1.  Autologous stem cell transplantation

In an autologous transplant, the patient is then exposed to chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells present in their body system . Once the discease is n remission, the stem cells are collected and stored in extremely cold conditions or rather frozen.

This exposure may greatly incapacitate the stem cells from carrying out their duty of producing blood therefore the previously frozen stem cells are reintroduced to produce blood.

2. Allogenic stem cell transplantation

Unlike in Autologous stem cell transplantation, in allogenic transplant , stem cells from a donor are introduced into the blood cancer patient’s body after a suitable match is identified.

On receiving the donor stem cells , the host’ immune cells detects the blood cancer cells as foreign and attacks them through an immune response. The Allogenic treatment option has it’s shortcoming of the recipient’s body rejecting the donor stem cells.

The introduced stem cells growing on the patient’s immune system can attack the normal organs like skin,lungs and liver leading to malfunctions . In case the malfunctions occur, immuno suppresants are administered to the patient to mitigate the effects.

Early detection and intervention of blood cancer makes treatment easier and the chances of being cured are high. Regular check ups  help.

Though still considered deadly, Leukemia is now curable provided detection and quality care and treatment can be offered in time.

India boasts of some of the best  onco-haemotologists in their hospitals, highly qualified doctors who are dedicated to cancer treatment , cancer treatment and research centres, low cost blood cancer care that is affordable.

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