In the human body, cancer begins with irregular cell division or mutation. Almost every area of the human body can generate these cancer cells, and if they do, they can travel to other parts of the body. At any age, receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating and difficult to accept for the patient, but childhood cancers are a completely different situation. Children and their parents experience intense emotional distress while they fight cancer.
Cancers that develop in children between the time they are born and they reach 14 years are referred to as childhood cancers. They are also known as paediatric cancers. According to recent statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of paediatric cancer has been significantly increasing worldwide.
Difference between adult and childhood cancer
Although cancer develops in children and adults in the same manner, there are some distinctions in the cancers that children are more likely to acquire and the therapeutic methods that are employed to treat them.
- Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is that adults are much more likely than children to develop cancer. Although it is still relatively uncommon, paediatric cancer has recently emerged as one of the major contributors to the global increase in morbidity and death rates.
- In contrast to adult cancers, childhood cancer is more likely to be caused by hereditary factors than by environmental factors or lifestyle choices like binge drinking, smoking, or eating poorly.
- Over time, several studies have revealed that while children are more prone to get cancers in various parts of the body, adults are more likely to be impacted by breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer. In other words, while childhood cancer starts in the tissues, adult cancer starts in the organs.
Symptoms of childhood cancer
Common symptoms of childhood cancer that parents should be aware of:
- Swelling in joints, legs, or bones
- Severe headaches
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Changes in the vision or an appearance of whitish colour in the pupil of the eye
- Pale skin and extreme fatigue
When it comes to paediatric cancers, some of the risk factors are preventable. Cancer is known to be brought on by a combination of various risk factors throughout time. Preventing childhood cancers is possible by limiting or avoiding extended exposure to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals, including alcohol, smoking, and air pollution during pregnancy. Radiation exposure can cause childhood cancer in children, which is why it’s also advisable to keep radiation exposure to a minimum.
Treatment for paediatric cancers
Treatment for childhood cancers isn’t necessarily the same as for adult tumours. The sort of cancer is determined by the type of therapy that each patient will get. Surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell (bone marrow) transplants are a few significant therapeutic options.
1. Surgery: Surgical procedures are used to remove cancerous cells and tumours inside the body.
2. Chemotherapy: This is a drug treatment in which drugs are used to kill fast-growing cells in the body.
3. Immunotherapy: It helps the immune system to fight against cancer cells.
4. Radiation therapy: High doses of radiation are used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours inside the body.