A diagnosis of cancer is heartbreaking at any age, but especially so when the patient is a minor. In such a condition, it is natural for parents to have questions like, who will treat my child? Will my child be ever able to have a normal life again? How will all this affect our family? While there is no suitable answer to all these questions, we have prepared this information to provide a starting point for parents to understand the basics of childhood cancers.
Childhood cancers are relatively rare, with only one child developing cancer globally out of 10,000 normal children. The initial diagnosis of cancer can be shocking and stressful for the child and his parents. These emotions are quite natural and understandable, but they are also combined with a lack of information as well as some misconceptions. Parents are sometimes too distressed to realise that most childhood cancers are treatable and completely curable.
Childhood cancers can affect any body part, more commonly the bones, blood, and muscles. Leukemias, lymphomas, sarcomas, and embryonal cancers are some commonly seen childhood cancers. In the current times of advanced technology and due to the developments in the medical field, more than 80% of childhood cancers are completely treatable. Some childhood cancers like lymphoblastic leukaemia and wilms tumour have a more than 90% cure rate. Some cancers like Hodgkin's disease and germ cell tumours even have more than a 95% cure rate.
Children are not mature human beings, so when they suffer from a serious illness, their needs differ from adults, which require them to be treated accordingly. They need to be treated at a specialized medical centre by professionals trained to deal with such kinds of cases. Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital is the best Paediatric Cancer treatment hospital in Navi Mumbai, where paediatric oncologists are responsible for treating childhood tumours like leukaemias, sarcomas, wilms tumours, and brain and spinal cord tumours. With timely, appropriate and efficient treatment plans, most children with cancer get cured completely and get a chance to lead peaceful and fulfilled lives.
Information and support are important parts of the process that helps parents cope with the distressing situation. As parents, the more you know about the type of cancer your child is suffering from and its treatment options, the less confused and anxious you will feel. You can also try attending support group meetings where you get a chance to meet other parents whose children are either being treated for different types of cancers or have completed the treatment.
Paediatric cancers can be broadly classified into primary and secondary cancers. Primary cancer is when cancer originates from the place where it is found. Secondary cancers metastasise to the location of cancer in a distant organ. Cancer cells can spread from one organ to another either through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.
The symptoms of many cancers in children are similar to those of childhood injuries or illnesses, making them hard to recognize. However, the persistence of the below-mentioned symptoms requires immediate intervention:
Paediatric oncologists diagnose childhood cancers by running tests to identify the specific category of cancer. After a diagnosis is established, a series of other tests are run to determine the cancer stage and the extent of its spread. Following are some of the most common investigations done:
Getting the diagnosis is very important to ensure the appropriate treatment of cancer. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, detailed counselling sessions are held by the oncologist and the other members of the cancer team for the child's parents. The team ensures that all children are comfortable and pain-free throughout the course of the treatment.
As the treatment of childhood cancers is quite strong and sometimes aggressive, it can sometimes give rise to certain side effects. Some children may experience only some of these side effects. They include:
Please note that most of these side effects are treatable, so your child does not need to tolerate them. You must monitor your child carefully at all times, and if you notice any symptoms or side effects, you must report them to the oncology team immediately so that they can help you. The paediatric oncology team at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital which comprises the best Paediatric Oncologists in Navi Mumbai is always ready to help the small angels in their treatment journey to relieve all treatable symptoms and alleviate the anxiety of the parents.