Fighting Common Childhood Cancers | Health

A diagnosis of cancer is devastating at any age, but even more so when the patient is a child and according to the World Health Organization approximately 4,000,000 children and adolescents aged 0-19 develop cancer each year while types common childhood cancers include leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, tumors of Wilms, bone tumors, Ewing’s sarcoma and osteosarcoma. Pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused on the care of children with cancer because childhood cancers are not always treated like adult cancers.


In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Parveen Jain, Senior Consultant and Head of Oncology at Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka, said: “The majority of childhood cancers have no known cause. However, some are linked to genetic changes and others to intrauterine infections. Childhood cancers are generally not preventable or detected by screening. If detected early, childhood malignancies are highly curable with an 80% cure rate. They are usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, either as a single modality or a combination of these.

Dr. Priyanka Verma, consultant, hemato-oncologist at Regency Superspecialty Hospital, explained: “The cure rate for pediatric cancer is almost 80%, but the disturbing fact is that there is very less awareness of cancer. childhood cancer in our country. Much of childhood incidence “Cancer in society is still untreated. The symptom of each cancer varies, but the most important factors in each are poor growth, poor weight gain, and decreased appetite. Childhood cancer is quite different from adult cancer in many ways.”


She added: “Many parents usually go to the nearest clinic if their child has a problem or self-medicate without seeing a doctor. This results in late diagnosis and it often becomes almost impossible to cure. First, only 3% of all cancers occur in children and second, they are fast growing but also very sensitive to chemotherapy treatments. Healing is a very realistic and practically achievable goal.

Advising that one should have their children assessed upon seeing these symptoms, Dr Priyanka Verma stressed: ‘It is not contagious and does not spread from child to child. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential for a good cure rate. Since the treatment is often long, we also suggest that the parents provide home care for the child. In this case, it is very important that extra precautions are taken at home to ensure discipline and regularity of treatment, good hygiene and a balanced diet.

The WHO reports that in high-income countries, more than 80% of children with cancer are cured while in low- and middle-income countries, only less than 30% are cured. The vast majority of childhood cancers have no known cause, however, HIV, EBV, genetic mutations, ionizing radiation and environmental factors can play a role in causing childhood cancers.

Dr. Vani Ravi Kumar, senior consultant at the RV Metropolis Lab, suggested: “Childhood cancer treatment relies on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The improvement has been particularly dramatic for a few cancers, in particular acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common childhood cancer. Childhood cancer data systems are needed to further improve the quality of care.

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