I am a cancer survivor. It was a frightening experience, but one common for many adults. My life now is proceeding and I am back in the routine of my daily life. That has not been the case for my teenage granddaughter, Aubrey, who is battling a malignant brain tumor.
Aubrey is a freshman in high school this year and enjoying each day to the fullest. Brenda's, entries on a web site called CaringBridge have helped me understand her family's stuggle. Our numerous trips this year to Children's Hospital in Denver have been heart wenching, and her victories have been wonderful.
Cancer in children is more common that most people realize. Childhood cancers behave very differently than adult cancers and the survival statistics are not as promising. Furthermore, the incidence of childhood cancer seems to be increasing. Please join us in increasing awareness of childhood cancer facts and statistics.
Here are some of the facts and statistics:
- Cancer is the #1 killer of children by disease. It is the second leading cause of all childhood deaths exceeded only by accidents.
- On average, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States.
- One in 330 children will develop cancer before the age of 20.
- Each year, about 3,000 children die from cancer - more than from asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies, and pediatric AIDS combined.
- Only about 20% of adults with cancer show evidence that the disease has spread to distant sites on the body at diagnosis yet 80% of children are diagnosed with advanced disease.
- The incidence of childhood cancer is increasing. The cause of this is unknown.
- Most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation, and exposure to cancer-causing agents. The cause of most childhood cancers in unknown.
- Pediatric funding is nominal in comparison to other more publicized diseases such as pediatric AIDS or juvenile diabetes which increases awareness each year.
- Approximately 70% of children with cancer participate in research trials compared to only 3% of adult cancer patients. As a result, many of the advances in adult cancer treatments are due to breakthroughs in childhood cancer research.
- The symbol for childhood cancer is the gold ribbon.
- Childhood cancers are mostly those of the white blood cells (leukemia's), brain, bone, the lymphatic system and tumors of the muscles, kidneys and nervous system. Each of these behaves differently. Cancers in very young children are highly aggressive and behave unlike malignant disease seen at other times of life. The median age for childhood cancer is six. Children frequently have a more advanced stage of cancer when they are first diagnosed. 80% of children show that cancer has spread to distant sites in the body when the disease is first diagnosed.
- Although it is unlikely that your child will develop cancer, as a parent, you need to be aware of the symptoms of childhood cancer. Observe your child for any sudden, persistent changes in health or behavior as listed on the Signs of Childhood Cancer (below.) Since most of the symptoms of cancer can also be attributed to benign conditions, the diagnosis of cancer can be a long process. You must trust your own instinct and work as a team with your doctor, using your knowledge of your child and your doctor's knowledge of medicine to protect your child's health.
Signs of Childhood Cancer:
- Continued, unexplained weight loss
- Headaches, often with vomiting, at night or early morning
- 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 infection
- 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 fevers of unknown origin
This information was taken from the following websites: