Childhood cancers or Pediatric Tumors frequently differ from adult cancers. The cause of childhood cancers are due to DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life, sometimes even before birth.
Cancers developing in children include leukemias and lymphomas, brain tumors as well those of the central nervous system like neuroblastomas, Wilms tumour & retinoblastomas, and rhabdomyosarcomas and bone cancers (osteosarcomas and Ewing’s sarcomas).
Lifestyle factors such as obesity and poor lifestyle habits need time to do their cumulative damage, so they are mostly not contributory factors for childhood cancers. However, there are a few known environmental factors, like radiation exposure, associated with some childhood cancers. Even parental exposures (like smoking) may increase risk of certain childhood cancers.
Clinically, each childhood tumor will show its own specific symptoms. However, it is time to be alerted if you notice your child having any unusual lumps or swellings, unexplained lethargy, paleness and listlessness, easy bruising, persistent pain, limping, unexplained ongoing fever or illness, frequent headaches, sudden eye or vision changes and unexplained weight loss.
If indeed your child does have cancer, he or she should be treated by a team of doctors. The team will include pediatric oncologists (specialists in treating children with cancer), pediatric surgeons (specialists in performing surgery in children), radiation oncologists (specialists in radiation to treat cancer) and pediatric oncology nurses.
The different treatment regimens include Surgery, Chemotherapy and/or Radiotherapy. Briefly, primary surgery treats localized tumors if possible. Chemotherapy and local radiotherapy would be needed if there are unfavorable prognostic factors in the case or in aggressive and fast spreading tumors. In high-risk disease, high dose chemotherapy, surgery, autologous (from self) stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and maturation therapy are to be used.