Childhood cancer: A break before the beginning?


A cancer diagnosis is upsetting at any age, but especially in a child. It’s natural to have many questions, such as, who should treat my child? Will my child get well? What does all of this mean for our family? Not all questions have answers, but the information and resources on this article will provide a starting point for understanding the basics of childhood cancer.
Although pediatric cancer death rates have declined over the past few decades, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. Benign tumours are more common than cancers. Most benign tumours are a matter of little concern, but on occasion they cause serious complications by their location or rapid increase in size. The most common types of cancer diagnosed in children at ages between 0 to 14 years are leukemia or blood cancer, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors, and lymphomas.
There are also some congenital tumour like Retinoblastoma of eye, Hepatoblastoma of liver, Nephroblastoma of kidney and Teratoma. Bone cancers like Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma are also very common. A growing body of literature has implicated environmental hazards in the etiology of certain childhood cancers. Exposure to ionizing radiation from nuclear accidents, x-rays, or radiation therapy is associated with an increased risk of childhood leukemia and solid tumours. Exposures to solvents and ambient air pollutants, including benzene may also contribute to an increased risk of childhood leukemia. Evidence suggests a link between parental, prenatal, and childhood exposures to pesticides and childhood leukemia in both residential and occupational settings.
In utero exposure to household insecticides and indoor pesticides is linked to increased risk of childhood leukemia. Finally, numerous studies from around the world have consistently identified associations between pesticide exposures and risk of lymphomas, brain tumors, and other solid tumours. Prenatal and postnatal exposures to environmental tobacco smoke have a suggestive association with childhood leukemia, lymphomas, and brain tumours.
Dr Md Zubayet Hossain Khan MS Resident Orthopaedics (Chittagong Medical College)

Dr Md Zubayet Hossain Khan MS Resident Orthopaedics (Chittagong Medical College)
Paternal smoking, in particular, before conception has also been linked to an increased risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Despite the growing insight into potentially modifiable risk factors for childhood cancer, there is little evidence that this knowledge is being translated to clinical practice. To fight against any cancer at any age, prevention is always preferred over treatment. Preventing us and our children from exposure of carcinogenic environment and materials can save our children from developing cancer. But if cancer develops, treatment should start as early as possible.
Children’s cancers are not always treated like adult cancers. Pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused on the care of children with cancer. There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Children face unique issues during their treatment for cancer, after the completion of treatment, and as survivors of cancer. For example, they may receive more intense treatments, cancer and its treatments have different effects on growing bodies than adult bodies, and they may respond differently to drugs that control symptoms in adults.
Adjusting to a child’s cancer diagnosis and finding ways to stay strong is challenging for everyone in a family. Parents should cope up as early as possible and give mental support to the child. It’s essential for childhood cancer survivors to receive follow-up care to monitor their health after completing treatment. Survivors of any kind of cancer can develop health problems months or years after cancer treatment, known as late effects, but late effects are of particular concern for childhood cancer survivors because treatment of children can lead to profound, lasting physical and emotional effects.
Late effects vary with the type of cancer, the child’s age, the type of treatment, and other factors. Bringing a conclusion on childhood cancer is very difficult but prognosis is improving with new research work every single minute. But there is still a long way to go. All questions are still not answered!