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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Retinoblastoma (Eye Cancer) Treatment, Symptoms

Retinoblastoma is a rare eye cancer . Childhood retinoblastoma originates in a part of the eye called the retina. The retina is a thin layer of nerve tissue .

Retinoblasts (immature cells of the retina) multiply during gestation and early life to make enough cells to create the retina.

Retinoblastoma is a cancer that affects these retinoblasts, causing them to multiply too much, and limit the process of differentiation.

Retinoblastoma in children can occur in one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral). It is affecting 300 children each year.

This disease occurs most often in children under the age of 4 years, with 80% of cases occurring under age 3 years and virtually none above age 6 years. Most children (99%) with eye cancer generally get cured.

Signs and Symptoms of Retinoblastoma:

A pupil that looks white or black instead of red when light hits it, a crossed eye (looking either toward the nose or toward the ear), poor vision, a red, painful eye and an enlarged pupil.

Retinoblastoma Treatment:

Treatment for Retinoblastoma is chemotherapy (intra-arterial or systemic) to reduce the tumor size. Chemotherapy followed by followed by some form of local treatment and possibly radiation therapy and surgery. Treatment may prolong from months till years particularly in eyes treated with cryotherapy and/or photocoagulation after chemotherapy.

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