What Is Cancer?
As cancer cells grow, they demand more and more of the body's nutrition. Cancer takes a person's strength, destroys organs and bones, and weakens the body's defenses against other illnesses.
Cancer is uncommon in children, but can happen. The most common childhood cancers are leukemia, lymphoma, and brain cancer. As kids enter the teen years, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is more common.
The things that cause cancer in kids are usually not the same ones that cause cancer in adults, such as smoking or exposure to environmental toxins. In children, a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome, can sometimes increase the risk of cancer. Kids who have had chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer are more likely to get cancer again.
In most cases, however, childhood cancers come from random mutations (changes) in the genes of growing cells. Because these changes happen randomly and unpredictably, there is no effective way to prevent them.
Sometimes, a doctor might spot early symptoms of cancer at regular checkups. However, some symptoms of cancer (such as fever, swollen glands, frequent infections, anemia, or bruises) can happen with other childhood infections or conditions that are more common than cancer. Because of this, both doctors and parents might suspect other childhood illnesses when cancer symptoms first appear.
The treatment of cancer in children can include surgery (to remove cancerous cells or tumors), chemotherapy (the use of medical drugs to kill cancer cells), radiation (the use of radiant energy to kill cancer cells), and bone marrow transplant.
Doctors may use one or more of these treatments for a child who has cancer. The type of treatment needed depends on the child's age, the type of cancer, and how severe the cancer is.
Coping With Cancer
The main goal when treating kids with cancer is to cure them. This takes priority over everything else, even if it means unwanted side effects as a result of treatment. Thankfully, many medicines and therapies can make kids more comfortable while undergoing treatment for cancer.
If your child shows any signs of cancer symptoms, get him or her to your doctor immediately.
Allow family and friends to lend you support to deal with what is to come.