8 Things to Know About Childhood Cancer

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – Parents of a child with cancer might be daunted by the vast range of information available on this disease. No matter which specific form of cancer is being dealt with, certain fundamental facts ought to be conveyed at the outset. Here are eight important things to know:

  • Cancer is the number one killer in children. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for young people aged 0 to 19 in the U.S. and Europe.
  • There are 13 common types of pediatric cancer. Although survival rates for most childhood cancers have improved in recent decades, the improvement has been especially dramatic for a few cancers, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common childhood cancer. By contrast, survival rates remain very low for some cancer types, for some age groups and for some cancers within a site, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
  • Causes are largely unknown. The causes of most childhood cancers are not known, reports the NCI. Most cancers in children, however, like those in adults, are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer. Genetic mutations can arise during the development of a fetus.
  • Risk of diagnosis is 1 in 285. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance a child will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20 is 1 in 285, or just more than one-third of one percent.
  • Rates differ between children and adolescents. Cancer occurs more frequently in adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 than in younger children. The NCI reports that from 2001 to 2007 there were 32.1 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 children ages 0 to 14 years versus 138.6 diagnoses per 100,000 individuals of ages 15 to 39 years.
  • Follow-up care is lifelong. As with adult cancer, survivors of childhood cancer need follow-up care and enhanced medical surveillance for the rest of their lives because of the risk of complications that can occur many years after they complete treatment for their cancer. For high-risk children who survive, about 30 percent will develop secondary cancers as a result of the intensive treatments 10 to 15 years later, according to research published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer.
  • Less than five percent of adults with cancer will take part in a clinical trial, while 60 percent of childhood cancer patients under age 15 do. According to the American Cancer Society, this is driven by the need for many children to access experimental treatments because their cancer does not respond to standard treatments.
  • Organizations work with parents to accelerate the pace of new treatments. Solving Kids’ Cancer (SKC) is a 501(c)(3) charity committed to significantly improving survivorship of the least-curable childhood cancers including neuroblastoma, sarcomas and brain tumors. All of its public donations are used to find, wisely invest in and manage clinical studies and scientific programs to rapidly develop effective treatment options.

To date, SKC has helped repurpose an anti-parasitic drug to be used as cancer therapy for children with neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma; helped introduce a pioneering category of immunotherapy cancer treatment using the oncolytic vaccinia virus as an anti-cancer agent for children with high-risk solid tumors; and helped establish a new category of immunotherapy using immune cells donated from a parent as a targeted anti-cancer treatment. And this is just a fraction of the impact Solving Kids’ Cancer has had on research.

Work such as that being done by Solving Kids’ Cancer might ensure a brighter tomorrow for the youngest victims of this scourge. To learn more about Solving Kids’ Cancer, please visit www.solvingkidscancer.org.

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