There are 11 primary forms of cancer that effect children. It is the goal of Simcha Layeladim - Kids Vs. Cancer to help kids battle these cancers. Below is an overview of the most common types. More information can be found at the web site for National Cancer Institute, Childhood Cancer.
Bone Cancers: The bones may be the site to which other cancers spread, but some types originate in the skeleton. The most common bone cancer is osteogenic sarcoma. Bone cancer in children occurs most often during adolescent growth spurts, and 85% of those teenagers have tumors on their legs or arms, half of them around the knee. Ewing's sarcoma differs from osteosarcoma in that it affects the bone shaft, and tends to be found in bones other than the long bones of the arm and the leg, such as the ribs. During the period from 1950 to 1980, there was a 50% reduction in deaths in children due to bone sarcoma.
Brain Tumors: Tumors of the brain and spinal cord are the most common types of solid tumors in children. Some tumors are benign, and some children can be cured by surgery. But there has been less dramatic progress in treating brain cancer tumors than most other childhood malignancies because they are hard to diagnose and treat. Twenty percent of all primary brain tumors arise in children younger than age 15, somewhat more in boys than girls. There is a peak in incidence between the ages of 5 and 10.
Leukemias: Leukemia is cancer of the tissues of the body which make the blood cells and the bone marrow. When leukemia strikes, the body makes an abundance of abnormal white cells that do not perform their proper functions. They invade the marrow and crowd out the normal healthy blood cells, making the patient susceptible to infection and bruising. The most common form of this disease in young children is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL,) which medical science has made remarkable progress in fighting.
Lymphomas: Lymphoma is cancer which arises in the lymph system, the body.s circulatory network for filtering out impurities. There are two broad varieties, Hodgkin's disease, and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common in children than Hodgkin's disease. It can arise in the tonsils, thymus, bone, small intestine, spleen, or in lymph glands anywhere in the body. The disease can spread to the central nervous system and the bone marrow. Treatments have been developed that can cure many children, and other promising treatments are coming along.
Neuroblastoma: Found only in children, neuroblastoma arises in the adrenal glands, located in the abdominal area near the kidneys, and along the sympathetic nerve chain in the chest and abdomen. It attacks very young children. One-fourth of those affected show initial symptoms during the first year of life. Neuroblastoma spreads quickly, and often is discovered only after the disease is widespread. Early stages are curable by surgery alone. Researchers have discovered new treatments for advanced stages which are increasingly effective.
Rhabdomyosarcoma: The most common soft tissue sarcoma in children, this extremely malignant neoplasm originates in skeletal muscle. Although it can occur in any muscle tissue, it is generally found in the head and neck area (including the eye socket), the genito-urinary tract, or in the extremities. Although rhabdomyosarcoma tends to grow and spread very rapidly, fortunately its symptoms are quite obvious compared to other forms of childhood cancer. Overall prognosis is improving, with the development of improved chemotherapies.
Wilms' Tumor: This rapidly-developing tumor of the kidney most often appears in children, usually between the ages of two and four, and is very different from adult kidney cancers. The disease often metastasizes to the lungs, and in the past, the mortality from this cancer was extremely high. However, newer therapies have been very effective in controlling it, combining surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and cure rates have risen sharply.
Other: Retinoblastoma: a malignant eye tumor which occurs in young children and shows a hereditary pattern -- accounts for only 2% of the childhood cancer cases. However, it received a great deal of attention when it was the first cancer for which researchers were able to identify the responsible gene. There are many other childhood cancers that are even more rare, including germ cell tumors, thyroid cancer, malignant melanoma, testicular tumors (usually during puberty) and primary cancers in the kidney, liver, and lung.
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