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Childhood cancer is rare, about 1 in every 600 children develop cancer before the age of 15 - yet relatively little is known about the causes is. Childhood cancer is not a single disease - there are many different types. Compared with adult cancers they tend to occur in several sites of the body. Municipality of adults, such as cancers of the lung, breast, colon, stomach and are extremely rare among children. On the other hand, some types of cancer are found almost exclusively in children, particularly tumors that embryonic stem cells associated with the fetus, embryo, developing and body.
Observe your child for any sudden, persistent changes in health or behavior as listed above. Since most of the symptoms of cancer can also be attributed to benign conditions, the diagnosis of cancer can be a lengthy process. You must trust your instincts and his work as a team with the doctor, using your knowledge of your child and his medical knowledge of medicine to protect the health of your child.

What are the symptoms of Childhood Cancer?

  • Continued, unexplained weight loss.
  • Headaches, often with early morning vomiting.
  • Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back, or legs.
  • Lump or mass, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits.
  • Development of excessive bruising, bleeding, or rash.
  • Constant infections.
  • A whitish color behind the pupil.
  • Nausea which persists or vomiting without nausea.
  • Constant tiredness or noticeable paleness.
  • Eye or vision changes which occur suddenly and persist.
  • Recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin.
What Are the Types of Childhood Cancers?

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, the spongy center of the bones that makes blood cells. It accounts for approximately 35% of all childhood cancers, although it is more common in children under the age of 10. In leukemia, abnormal white blood cells divide out of control and crowd out the normal cells in the bloodstream. The abnormal white blood cells are not mature, and therefore cannot carry out their infection-fighting function in the blood. These cells crowd out healthy white blood cells, as well as the red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body and the platelets which cause the blood to clot.

Signs and Symptoms:
  • Lethargy, weakness, paleness, dizziness.
  • Back, leg, and joint pain, headache, trouble standing or walking.
  • Easy bruising, unusual bleeding, frequent nose bleeds, bleedinggums, petechiae (red pinpoints on the skin).
  • Repeated, frequent infections.
  • Fever that lasts for several days.
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss.
  • Swollen lymph nodes, bloated or tender stomach, swollen liver or spleen.
  • Night sweats.
  • Irritability.
These same symptoms are also attributed to the common flu; this fact makes diagnosis extremely difficult. Each parent of a child with leukemia has a different story of how the child was diagnosed. But, most parents remember that their child was more tired than usual in the weeks before diagnosis.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system. It accounts for 5%-7% of all childhood malignancies. Neuroblastoma is a solid, malignant tumor which manifests as a lump or mass in the abdomen or around the spinal cord. Treatment will be determined by many factors, including the stage of the disease at diagnosis and your child's age.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Lump or mass in the abdomen, chest, neck, or pelvis.
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, stomach pain, constipation, difficulty urinating.
  • Changes in the eyes: black eyes, a droopy eyelid, a pupil that doesn't constrict, visio problems.
  • Pain in the chest, difficulty breathing, persistent cough.
  • Pain or numbness in the lower extremities, limping, inability to stand, stumbling.
  • Bone pain, fever, irritability, listlessness.
  • Backaches (backaches in children are not usual).
Most neuroblastomas are found in the abdomen. Parents may feel a lump or mass while dressing or bathing their child. A tumor in the abdomen may cause the child to feel "full", experience stomach pain, loss of appetite, constipation and difficulty urinating. Other primary sites can include the head/neck or chest.

Wilms Tumor
Wilms tumor is a cancerous tumor on the kidney, although it is totally unrelated to adult kidney cancer. It accounts for 6-7% of childhood cancer cases.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Abdominal swelling and/or pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • oss of appetite.
  • Fever of unknown origin.
  • Night sweats.
  • Abnormal urine color or blood in the urine.
  • Malaise.
The lump of the tumor itself can sometimes be felt, but it may not always be detectable. The kidneys are located toward the back of the abdomen and the lump may be growing on the back of the kidneys or toward the inside and it may not be as easily detected. Sometimes these symptoms are attributed to a common kind of stomach flu, and are therefore left untreated by a doctor.

Brain Cancers

Brain cancers account for 15% of pediatric cancers. The symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. Since the brain controls learning, memory, senses (hearing, visual, smell, taste, touch), emotions, muscles, organs, and blood vessels, the presentation of symptoms varies accordingly. Since young children often do not complain of the symptoms, parents must rely on their own observations of their child to be aware of signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms
  • A seizure not related to high fever.
  • Staring, repetitive automatic movements.
  • Persistent vomiting without any known cause (projectile vomiting), nausea.
  • Progressive weakness or clumsiness; neck tilt, squint.
  • Walking, balance problems.
  • Precocious puberty; growth retardation.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Vision problems.
  • Headache, especially that wakes the child up at night or isearly in the morning.
  • Pain, especially back pain, which should be taken seriously in a child.
  • Changes in personality, irritability, listlessness.
  • Excessive thirst and excessive urination (rare, if the tumor ispressing against the pituitary) .
The symptoms of brain tumors are diffuse and confusing, and are often initially attributed to viruses, neurological problems, or even emotional problems. Most parents of children diagnosed with brain tumors report variations of the symptoms listed above, symptoms that had no apparent cause and may have lasted for several months before the pediatricians ordered the tests which diagnosed a brain tumor.


Rhabdomyosarcoma is a fast-growing, highly malignant soft-tissue sarcoma which arises in undifferentiated striated muscle cells. This type of cancer can occur in a variety of places in the body: the head, neck, and around the eyes; the extremities (shoulders, arms, and legs); in the pelvic region and genitourinary tract; and in the chest and lungs.
Rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for 5-8% of childhood cancers and usually affects children the ages of 2 to 6 and 15 to 19. A noticeable lump or swelling is present in many cases of rhabdomyosarcoma. Other symptoms depend on the location of the tumor.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Lump or swelling, firm and painless to touch, in the extremities, the groin area, or the vaginal area.
  • Drooping eyelids, swelling of the eye, protruding eyeball, rapid vision changes.
  • Hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing.
  • Abdominal pain that persists for more than a week.
Keep a close eye on your child for small lumps which do not disappear in a week or so, but instead keep growing larger. Especially watch the pelvic region and the arms and legs. Also watch for any changes in the eyes. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rapidly growing tumor and the sooner treatment begins, the more favorable is the prognosis


Lymphomas are malignant cell infiltrations of the lymphatic system. The lymph system includes the nodes with which many parents are familiar, located in the neck, armpit, and groin. These nodes are only part of the lymph system, as they are connected to each other and to the spleen, thymus, and parts of the tonsils, stomach, and small intestine. Once a malignancy begins in one part of the lymph system, it often spreads throughout the rest of the system before it is detected.
Lymphomas are broadly classified as Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's. The two are distinguished by cell type. They share similar symptoms such as painless swelling of the lymph nodes, fever and fatigue. Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are more common with at least 15 different types. Hodgkin's generally occurs in individuals between 15-40 years of age, while non-Hodgkin's generally occurs in individuals between 30-70 years of age.
Today, Hodgkin's lymphoma is more curable than non-Hodgkin's. The cure rate varies according to the type of disease.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Swollen lymph node, especially in the neck, armpit or groin
  • Swelling of the face
  • Weakness, tiredness
  • Sweating, especially at night
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Pain
  • Breathing difficulties, occasional cough, sometimes difficultyin swallowing
In most cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a painless, firm swelling in the neck, the armpit, or the groin lymph nodes is present. Since extranodal sites are often involved, other less specific signs may occur. Gastrointestional tract involvement leads to abdominal pain, jaundice, diarrhea, gastrointestional bleeding, and constipation. If the spleen or liver are involved, they are enlarged. If the bone marrow is involved, neutropenia, fatigue, bleeding or bruising occurs.

Retinoblastoma is a malignancy of the retinal cell layer of the eye and is the most common eye tumor in children. It usually occurs before the age of five and can occur in one or in both eyes and is hereditary in some cases. Retinoblastoma accounts for 3-4% of all childhood cancers.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Whitish color behind the pupil.
  • Problems with eye movements (crossed eyes).
  • A red irritation that persists.
The most common symptom is a whitish color behind the pupil, instead of the usual dark color. At well-baby check-ups, the pediatrician routinely checks your child's eyes for this and other symptoms. As a parent, you should watch for the above symptoms between check-ups as well.

Bone Cancers
Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma are the most common malignancies of bone tissues in children. Osteosarcoma, the more common of the two types, usually presents in bones around the knee; Ewing's sarcoma may affect bones of the pelvis, thigh, upper arm, or ribs. Bone cancers are most common in ages 10-20 and they account for about 6% of all childhood cancers.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Pain in a bone.
  • Swelling or tenderness around a bone or joint.
  • Interference with normal movements.
  • Weak bones, leading to fractures.
  • Fatigue, fever, weight loss, anemia.
God Bless the Children