Childhood Cancer

Each year approximately 10,400 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer 1. The three most common type of cancer diagnosed in children includes brain, central nervous system and leukemia. In fact, leukemias make up about one-third of all childhood cancers, with the most common subtype affecting children being acute lymphoblastic leukemia 1.

Other cancers that affect children include gliomas, lymphomas, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, sarcomas and Wilms tumor 1.

Treatment for childhood cancer largely depends on the type of cancer and stage of the cancer at diagnosis, but may include one or more of the following treatment options:

Surgery
The type of surgery performed to treat the childhood cancer will depend on the specific type of cancer as well as the size of the tumor.
Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill the cancerous cells. It can be given externally, meaning the radiation stems from a large machine, or internally, where the radiation is placed directly into the body in the area of the tumor. Radiation is usually given to try to shrink the size of the tumor and/or to help alleviate pain associated with the cancer.
Chemotherapy
Given intravenously and by pill, chemotherapy works to kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells. Since chemotherapy is not selective in killing just the cancer cells, it can cause several debilitating side effects including hair loss and nausea.
Targeted Therapy
Innovative research over the past decade has yielded a better understanding of how certain genes or proteins stimulate the growth of certain cancers. Targeted therapies are designed to attack or interfere with specific genes or cells that have been shown to help with the growth of certain cancers.
Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant
This form of treatment occurs when high doses of chemotherapy or radiation are given to destroy bone marrow cells (where blood cells develop) and then are replaced with healthy stem cells, which form new blood cells, previously removed from the bone marrow or blood of the patient or a donor.

References

  1. National Cancer Institute. Childhood Cancers Fact Sheet.. Accessed on October 10, 2010.

 

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