A diagnosis of cancer often causes much anxiety and grief in everyone.This is more so when the patient is a young child. If a child is diagnosed with cancer, it has a big impact on the whole family. It is important to remember that it’s not the parents/ caregiver’s fault that the child has cancer and it’s not because of anything they’ve done or anything they have not done.
Pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused on the care of children with cancer.In India, cancer is the 9th common cause for the deaths among children between 5 and 14 years of age.
The most common types of cancer diagnosed in children ages 0 to 14 years are leukemias, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors and Lymphomas.The causes of most childhood cancers are not known. Approximately 5 percent of all cancers in children are caused by an inherited mutation (a genetic mutation that can be passed from parents to their children).Majority of the cancers in children are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer.
Childhood cancer needs multidisciplinary, holistic care to ensure appropriate and individualized treatment .Improving outcomes for children with cancer requires early and accurate diagnosis followed by effective treatment.
Treatment of childhood cancers are one of the success stories in the history of medical oncology. In 1970s, less than 10% of all children diagnosed with cancers used to get cured with the available therapy. Now in 2019, more than 80% of all childhood malignancies can be treated effectively and cured.The treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is.After clinical evaluation, Diagnostic and staging investigations often direct the further treatment which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant.
During such intensive therapy, quite often children may have to be hospitalised for prolonged periods or be reviewed by the doctor in clinic with Frequent blood investigations.Children receiving chemotherapy are at risk of infections and bleeding.The cancer is not contagious ( it wouldn't spread to others by touch or contact).One treatment is completed the child can resume school and normal activities but will be followed up regularly.