Are Childhood cancers different from Adult Cancers?

Cancer
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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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is cancer of blood in children. It develops in bone marrow particularly, the spongy internal part of bones where new blood is made and spreads to the bloodstream.

Mutation in white blood cells which causes them to multiply uncontrollably is the main cause of Leukemia.

ALL is the most common cancer in kids, accounting for 25% of all cancers in children under the age of 15. The amount of time between the onset of symptoms and the cancer diagnosis does not change the chances for cure.

Signs and Symptoms of ALL:

Symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia includes:

  1. Fatigue and anemia ( due to decrease in  number of red blood cells)
  2. Fever and neutropenia (decreased number of healthy white blood cells)
  3. Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets)
  4. Bone pain
  5. Enlarged lymph nodes
  6. Weight loss.

Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia:

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is mainly treated with long-term use of chemotherapy with intensive chemo regimens. Consolidation treatment may also need to stop reoccurrence of cancer, therefore consolidated therapy includes, more chemotherapies, a donor transplant and a transplant with patient’s own blood stem cells (that’s is very rare).

Tomorrow we will cover: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Leukemia (Cancer of the Blood)

Leukemia:

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