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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 even children. Very small children, who are too young to understand what is happening to them, get it and very often they are much better than we as adults could ever be. It could be that children have a natural optimism to them. The sun will always shine for them and if it doesn’t shine the next day, it sure will shine the next day. They take great joy in simple things like colored crayons and pieces of paper. We can learn a lot from them.
It will be a great relief to learn that childhood cancer is relatively rare, only 14 out of every 100,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. Some of the most common types are leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer. In adolescence, 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 growing cells. The process is random and unpredictable so there is no effective method to prevent it. In some cases, children who have been treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy for previous cancer have an increased risk of cancer, which doesn’t seem fair, does it? Cancer is difficult to diagnose early in children, as the symptoms often resemble other conditions, it is only sometimes that a doctor will be able to take it as cancer during regular checks.
When cancer has been diagnosed, it is important to go to a center specialized in pediatric oncology for the best possible treatment for your child. Treatment for children includes chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Leukemia and lymphoma are the least likely to be treated with surgery because they are related to the circulatory system. Solid tumors can be removed relatively easily through surgery, which is then used in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Bone marrow transplants are performed when cancer affects the functioning of blood cells; this is often done in conjunction with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is therefore used mostly as a complementary tool to get rid of any lurking cancer. It can be given intravenously, orally or intrathecally or in 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 destroys or damages the cancer cells. It is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy or surgery.
Children should be involved with their own cancer treatment. They must be kept informed about the facts and progress and all the effects must be explained to them in a language they can understand. The main goal is to prevent fear and misunderstanding. You may find that older children may feel responsible for the cancer, as if it is somehow their fault. Psychologists and social workers who are part of the cancer team can really come to the fore at this time and help to reassure them. They can also visit the school and chat with teachers and classmates about cancer and explain things in a friendly way.
This all comes from http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/cancer/cancer.html and I’d just like to add a quick spot of information about some of the more common types of childhood cancers. Leukemia: cancer of the white blood cells. The most common childhood cancer. A large number of abnormal white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, they crowd the bone marrow and flood the blood. This interferes with the production of other types of blood cells and anemia develops, as well as other bleeding problems and an increased risk of infection. Leukemia makes up almost 25% of childhood cancers. Leukemia can be divided into 2 categories, acute (fast developing) and chronic (slow developing), 98% of all leukemias are acute. Leukemia can be divided into acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) depending on the specific white blood cells affected. 60% of cases are ALL, 38% are AML and about 2% are chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Lymphoma is the third most common childhood cancer. It is found in the lymphatic tissue, namely the lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow and connecting channels. It is divided into 2 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 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 in 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 outward unlike many other cancers that start elsewhere in the body and then attack the bones. It mostly affects teenagers, usually during a growth spurt. It affects boys more than girls and is usually found in the knee.
It seems that childhood cancers seem to really enjoy messing with children’s growth systems. They don’t want the kids to grow up at all. Rather means really animated. However, the really solid 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 isn’t worth a bright yellow crayon sun with a big smiley face, I don’t know what is.
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