Some of the Most Common Childhood Cancers

What are some of the most common childhood cancers?

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, the news is devastating, but statistics on survival keep improving. At present, more than 80 percent of childhood cancer patients will recover, whereas during the mid-1970s the 5-year survival rate was only 58 percent. Even so, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in children under 15 years of age, (right after accidents) and there are many hurdles to overcome when your child receives a cancer diagnosis.

The best thing you can do as a parent is keep strong for your child and there is no better way to do that than to fortify yourself with support from a community of others have been down the same path. By contacting an organization like Lexiebean Foundation, centered right here on Long Island, you will receive practical suggestions and compassionate assistance to help you and your family cope.

Factors that Make Diagnosing Childhood Cancers More Complex

Because children, especially young children, are less verbal and less aware of what is “normal,” they are less likely to report symptoms as accurately as adults. On the other hand, because some children are supersensitive to every “boo-boo,” the adults around them may be less likely to take every complaint seriously. Bumps and bruises, which may occasionally indicate a serious problem, are so common in children that they are easy to overlook.

Types of Childhood Cancer

In children, most cancers are the result of DNA cellular changes, whereas in adults environmental and lifestyle factors play a greater role. Though children may be diagnosed with rarer cancers than the ones discussed below, those mentioned are the more common types of childhood cancers.

  1. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
    Most common of all childhood cancers, ALL makes up approximately 34 percent of all childhood cancers. Though there are several types of childhood leukemia, ALL comprises 75 percent of all cases of childhood leukemia. Leukemia begins in the bone marrow, spreading to the blood and then the organs. The disease is more common in males than females and typically is diagnosed when the child is between 2 and 4 years of age. ALL manifests with symptoms of fatigue, weakness, bone and joint pain, bleeding, fever, and weight loss.
  2. Brain and Nervous System Tumors
    Just over a quarter of childhood cancers (27 percent) are malignancies affecting the brain and/or nervous system. There is a wide variety of such cancers, in terms of both treatment and prognosis. Symptoms of brain or nervous system tumors may include headaches, dizziness, balance, problems with hearing, speech or vision, and frequent vomiting.
  3. Neuroblastoma
    Neuroblastoma has its onset in the immature nerve cells of infants and young children, often beginning in the adrenal glands. Seven percent of childhood cancers are neuroblastomas. The disease is more common in males than females and is most often diagnosed in children younger than 5 years; 1 to 2 percent have a family history of it. Symptoms of neuroblastoma include impaired walking, diarrhea, high blood pressure, body pains, and changes in the eyes (e.g. bulging, dark circles, droopy eyelids).
  4.  Wilms Tumor
    Also known as nephroblastoma, Wilms tumor affects the kidneys and is the most common form of pediatric kidney cancer. Typically it only affects one kidney, though in rare cases it may affect both. Wilms tumor accounts for approximately 5 percent of childhood cancers and is generally diagnosed in 3-to 4-year-old children, rarely in children over 6 years. The good news about Wilms tumor is that 9 out of 10 children diagnosed with the disorder are successfully cured. Apart from the more general symptoms of fever, pain, nausea, and lack of appetite, a distinctive symptom of Wilms tumor is a lump or swelling in the belly.
  5. Lymphoma
    Lymphoma begins in immune cells known as lymphocytes, affecting lymph nodes, tonsils and/or the thymus gland. They can also affect the bone marrow and other organs. Depending on location, lymphoma can cause different symptoms. There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin.
  6. Hodgkin lymphoma, often called Hodgkin disease, is rare in children under 5 years of age.
    Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, though more likely than Hodgkin disease to occur in younger children, is still rare in children younger than 3 years of age. When non-Hodgkin lymphoma does occur in children, it is a different type than that which occurs in adults. Although aggressive, necessitating intensive treatment, treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is much more effective in children than in adults.
    Common symptoms of lymphoma include: swollen lymph nodes, fever, weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, and weakness.

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