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The Sun Will Shine Tomorrow
It is a very sad fact that adults are not the only ones who suffer from cancer, children get it too. Very young children, who are too young to understand what is happening to them, get it and very often they are much braver than we as adults could ever be. It could be that children have a natural optimism about them. The sun always shines for them and if it doesn’t shine the next day it sure will shine the day after. They take great joy in simple things like colored rocks and pieces of paper. We could learn a lot from them.
It will come as a great relief to learn that childhood cancer is relatively rare, only 14 out of every 100,000 children in the US are diagnosed with cancer each year. Some of the most common types are leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer. In teenagers one of the most common cancers is osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer. Most cases of childhood cancer arise from non-inherited mutations in the genes of developing cells. The process is random and unpredictable so there is no effective way to prevent it. In some cases children who have previously been treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer are at increased risk of developing cancer, which doesn’t seem fair, does it? It is difficult to diagnose cancer early in children, because the symptoms are often similar to other conditions, only sometimes a doctor is able to pick it up as cancer during the regular examinations.
Once cancer is diagnosed it is important to go to a center that specializes in pediatric oncology for the best overall treatment for your child. Treatment for children includes chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Leukemia and lymphoma are the most likely to be treated with surgery because they are linked to the circulatory system. Solid tumors can be largely removed through surgery, which is then used in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. A bone marrow transplant is done when the cancer affects the function of blood cells; This is often done along with chemotherapy. So chemotherapy is mostly used as a complimentary tool to get rid of any cancer that is hiding. It can be given intravenously, orally or intrathecally or into the spinal fluid. Radiation is often used in the case of children. A stream of high energy particles or waves is aimed at the cancer area and they destroy or damage the cancer cells. It is also used in combination with chemo or surgery.
Children should be involved in their own cancer treatment. They should be kept informed of the facts and progress and all implications should be explained to them in a language they understand. The main goal is to prevent fear and misunderstanding. Older children may feel responsible for their cancer, as if it is somehow their fault. The psychologists and social workers who are part of the cancer team can come to the fore at this time and help reassure them. They can also visit the school and talk to teachers and classmates about cancer and explain things to them in a friendly way.
This is all from http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/cancer/cancer.html and I would just like to add some information about some of the more common childhood cancers. Leukemia: Cancer of white blood cells. The most common childhood cancer. Many abnormal white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, they crowd the bone marrow and flood the bloodstream. This inhibits the production of other types of blood cells and anemia develops as well as other bleeding problems and an increased risk of infection. Leukemia accounts for about 25% of childhood cancers. Leukemia can be divided into 2 categories, acute (rapid development) and chronic (slow development), 98% of all leukemias are acute. Leukemia can be further divided into acute lyphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) depending on the specific white blood cells affected. 60% of the cases are ALL, 38% are AML and about 2% are chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
Lymphoma is the third most common childhood cancer. It is found in the lymphatic tissue ie lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow and connective channels. It is divided into two types, Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Reed-Sternberg cells are found in Hodgkin’s disease, which affects about 3 in 100,000 Americans. Symptoms include swollen glands in the neck, armpits or groin. If it is in the thymus, symptoms will include an unexplained cough, shortness of breath and problems with circulation around the heart. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma targets specific types of lymphocytes; there is minimal bone marrow involvement. It is more common among white males and those with severe immune deficiencies.
Osteosarcoma is the 6th most common childhood cancer and the most common bone cancer. It starts in the bones and spreads unlike many other cancers that start elsewhere in the body and then attack the bones. It affects teenagers the most, usually when there is growth. It affects boys more than girls and is usually found in the knee.
Childhood cancers seem to have a penchant for interfering with children’s growth systems. They don’t want the children to grow up at all. Instead it means true spirit. However, the good news is that childhood cancer has a high recovery rate. Up to 70% of all children with cancer can be cured. Now if that’s not a bright yellow sun with a big smiley face, I don’t know what is.
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