Cancer means that some of the cells in the body are no longer working normally. These abnormal cells grow out of control. The cancer cells kill good cells and grow in abnormal shapes and sizes. The cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body over time. There are different kinds of cancer, depending on the type of cancer cell and where in the body the abnormal cells are growing.
The most common childhood cancers include:
The sooner cancer is found and treated, the better your child's chances for recovery. However, even advanced cancer can usually be treated. Treatment may slow or temporarily stop the growth of the cancer and ease symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider what you can expect with the type of cancer that your child has.
What causes cancer in children is not known. In children, the cell changes happen randomly and there is no way to prevent them. It is possible that certain chemicals may cause some cancers to form. Some viruses, including the types of viruses (called HPV or human papillomavirus) that grow on the cervix, are associated with the development of certain cancers. Genetics may have something to do with the cause of other cancers.
There is no one common symptom for childhood cancer. This makes it hard to diagnose cancer at first. Children with cancer may have fevers, loss of appetite, pain, and swollen glands. Other symptoms depend on the type of cancer and where the cancer is in the body.
You and your healthcare provider will discuss possible treatments for your child. You may also talk with surgeon and a cancer specialist. Treatment decisions will take into account:
Possible treatments are:
Often, more than 1 type of treatment is used. Your child will need to have regular follow-up visits with his or her healthcare provider.
Up to 70% of children with cancer can be cured. Children cured of cancer have more risk of getting a second cancer later in life. The risk depends on the type of cancer and how it was treated.
If your child has been diagnosed with cancer:
It may also help if your child:
Counseling and support groups can help children and parents cope with the situation and help your family adjust to the changes in your lives.
For more information, contact: