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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Anaemic ! Could it be You ?

sickle cell anemia
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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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)