Know About Childhood Cancer, Causes, Treatment
Childhood cancer is a devastating reality that affects millions of families worldwide. Every year, thousands of children are diagnosed with cancer, which remains the leading cause of death in children. Childhood cancer not only takes a physical and emotional toll on the child but also impacts their families and loved ones. Despite the advancements in medical research, the fight against childhood cancer continues.
This blog will explore the various aspects of childhood cancer, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What Are The Causes Of Childhood Cancer?
Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age or body part. It starts with genetic changes in individual cells, which then multiply and form a mass or tumor that can spread to other parts of the body and potentially lead to death if not treated. In contrast to cancer in adults, the root cause of most childhood cancers remains unknown. Although various studies have attempted to identify the causes of childhood cancer, there are few instances where environmental or lifestyle factors have been identified as triggers.
Certain chronic infections, including HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, and malaria, have been identified as risk factors for childhood cancer. Additionally, some infections during childhood can increase the likelihood of developing cancer in adulthood. Therefore, it is crucial to take preventative measures, such as getting vaccinated against hepatitis B to reduce the risk of liver cancer and against human papillomavirus to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Detecting cancer in children can be challenging as the initial symptoms are similar to those caused by common illnesses or injuries. Children frequently experience sickness or injuries that can obscure early signs of cancer. Although cancer is not common in children, it is crucial to consult a doctor if your child shows any abnormal signs and symptoms, such as,
- A lump or swelling that is unusual
- Unexplained fatigue and paleness
- Experiencing easy bruising or bleeding
- Persistent pain in a particular area of the body
- Difficulty walking or a noticeable limp
- Unexplained illness or fever that persists
- Frequent headaches accompanied by vomiting
- Abrupt changes in vision or eye function
- Unintentional weight loss
The course of treatment and recommendations for cancer care is determined by various factors such as the specific type of cancer, the potential side effects of the treatment, and the patient's overall health and personal preferences. The most common types of treatments used for treating children with cancer include,
Surgery involves the extraction of a tumor, be it malignant or benign, and some healthy tissue surrounding it through a surgical procedure. Surgery is a necessary component of the treatment plan for many children with a tumor. The ultimate aim of the surgery is to remove the tumor entirely, along with the surrounding tissue margin, leaving no visible tumor behind in the body's tissue. The adverse effects of surgery can vary depending on factors such as the tumor's location, the child's age, the type of tumor, and whether the tumor has spread to other body parts.
Chemotherapy involves using drugs to eradicate cancer cells by inhibiting their growth, division, and reproduction. Typically, a chemotherapy regimen follows a fixed schedule and comprises several cycles administered over a predetermined period.
The degree of side effects caused by chemotherapy varies depending on the dosage and type of drug employed. Still, it may include fatigue, heightened susceptibility to infection, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Generally, these side effects resolve after treatment ends.
Radiation therapy involves using high-energy x-rays or particles, such as photons or protons, to eliminate cancer cells. A radiation oncologist is a specialist who administers radiation therapy to treat cancer. Due to the potential risk of damage to healthy organs and tissues and an increased likelihood of developing secondary cancers, doctors usually attempt to limit the use of radiation therapy in young children as much as possible.
External-beam radiation is the most prevalent type of radiation therapy given by a machine outside the body. Internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy, on the other hand, is when radiation treatment is delivered via implants. Novel methods of administering radiation are also under development. The adverse effects of radiation therapy differ based on the treatment's location and may include fatigue, mild skin reactions, gastrointestinal discomfort, and diarrhea.
Immunotherapy enhances the body's natural defense mechanisms against cancer by enhancing the immune system's capacity to target cancer cells. Immunotherapy methods include cancer vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and interferons.
Bone Marrow Transplantation/Stem Cell Transplantation
Bone marrow transplant is a medical intervention that involves replacing bone marrow containing cancerous cells with specialized cells.
Hope For A cure
In conclusion, childhood cancer is a devastating disease that affects not only the child but also their families and loved ones. Despite the advancements in medical research, the root causes of most childhood cancers remain unknown. Therefore, it is essential to continue investing in research and preventive measures such as vaccinations and early detection to reduce the incidence and impact of childhood cancer. Additionally, it is also essential to create childhood cancer awareness to enable its early detection and treatment.