Cancer in children is something that every parent hopes will never happen. Cancer is the second leading cause of child deaths. There are different types of cancer that can occur and these are different than cancer that occurs in adults. The causes of cancer are also different for children than adults. Adult cancer tends to develop due to lifestyle or environmental factors. With children, the causes are related to DNA changes and other biological factors.
There are certain types of cancer that occur in children more often than others. Certain types of cancer are very rare in children; however, it is not impossible. The main types are:
Cancer of the Blood – Leukemia
Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. There are two types: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This cancer starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood. Leukemia means that sick white blood cells take over the healthy ones and reduce the risk of the body to fight infections.
Cancer of the Immune System – Lymphoma
Lymphoma is cancer that attacks the immune system. The immune system is the army of the body and it has fighter cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma starts in these lymphocytes and it affects lymph nodes and lymph tissues. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer is more prominent in children of certain ages and children younger than 2 or 3 are less likely to develop this type of cancer.
Tumors – Brain cancer, bone cancer, etc.
Brain tumors are the second most common type of cancer in children. Tumors are large masses of cells that are sick. These cells grow bigger and can cause many other problems in the body. There are different types of tumors and they can occur in the brain, bones, and other tissues. Many different cancers fall into this category including Ewing Sarcoma, eye cancer, Wilms Tumors, liver cancer, neuroblastoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma, skin cancer, and thyroid cancer.
Some cancers are more common than others but the symptoms or warning signs are often mistaken for signs of other diseases or illnesses. The symptoms are often very similar to those of more common and less dangerous childhood illnesses. It is important to make sure that doctors can rule out cancer when you start seeing symptoms that may indicate either cancer or other illnesses. Other diseases can also coexist with cancer and cause more difficulty for diagnosis. Read more about treatments here.