Facts about Children's Cancer
Each year, approximately 15,500 parents will hear the words "your child has cancer." Across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economics, this disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Despite major advances – from an overall survival rate of 10 percent just forty years ago to nearly 90 percent today, for many rare cancers, the survival rate is much lower. Furthermore, the number of diagnosed cases annually has not declined in nearly 20 years.
Every day, 42 children are diagnosed with cancer.12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive. Children's cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups. The average age of children diagnosed is six. More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year. 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers. There are approximately 375,000 adult survivors of children's cancer in the United States.That equates to 1 in 530 adults ages 20-39.
Types of Children's Cancer
Below is an overview of each of the most common children's cancers including common symptoms, how they are diagnosed, standard treatments, new therapies being tested and current research.
There are three overall kinds of children's cancer:
Leukemia - Cancer of the Blood
Bone marrow is a factory where our blood is made deep inside our bones. It makes red blood cells (which carry oxygen and nutrients through the body), white blood cells (which fight germs and infections) and platelets (which help stop bleeding).
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Leukemia cells are sick immune blood cells that do not work properly and crowd out healthy blood cells. Leukemias are the most common childhood cancers. Types of leukemia include acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Acute Mylogenous Leukemia (AML)
Lymphoma - Cancer of the Immune System
The body has a defense system, the immune system. The immune system finds cells that are not healthy or cells that do not belong in the body and destroys them. The immune system stores fighter cells, called lymphocytes, in lymphoid tissues in the body. Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system and lymphoid tissues. The sick cells do not work properly to protect the body and they crowd out healthy cells of the immune system. Types of lymphomas include Hodgkin disease (or Hodgkin lymphoma) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hodgkin Disease Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin)
Solid Tumors (Sarcomas) - Cancer of the Bone, Organs or Tissues
A solid tumor is a lump of sick cells stuck together. Tumors can develop in many parts of the body including the brain, kidneys, liver and bones. These sick cells crowd out healthy cells and keep them from doing their job. Types of solid tumor cancers include neuroblastoma, Ewing Sarcoma and Wilms Tumors.
Germ Cell Tumors
Soft tissue sarcoma
In the last 40 years, the overall survival rate for children's cancer has increased from 10% to nearly 90% today, but for many more rare childhood cancers, the survival rate is much less.
The causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown, and for the most part they cannot be prevented. A few conditions, such as Down syndrome, other specific chromosomal and genetic abnormalities, and ionizing radiation exposures, explain a small percentage of cases. Children with AIDS have an increased risk of developing certain cancers, predominantly non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma.