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CHILDHOOD CANCERModern medicine has come a long way since mankind began the battle we must all face in terms of illness and disease. Above and beyond the worries and hardships that arise from adult illness, there are the unexplainable horrors parents of children endure who have become ill or have been diagnosed with one of the many dreaded cancer variations. Cancer can and does occur in individuals regardless of age, gender or nationality. It effects children as much, so that it is the leading cause of death in children and adolescents globally, second only to accidents. Approximately 280000 children between the ages of 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with this deadly disease each year, making it a serous issue for modern medicine, challenging even the most skilled professionals.
The onset of cancer begins at a cellular level when certain genetic changes initiate the eventual development of a mass or otherwise referred to as tumours. These cells then invade other parts of the body, resulting in devastation and can lead to death if not diagnosed and treated accordingly. There are a multitude of factors that make childhood cancers more complex and difficult to deal with specifically for the families, and more so for parents. One of the most alarming facts for parents is understanding the cause or reason behind this disease in their child. Surprisingly a vast majority of childhood cancers do not have a known cause, and there are very few that develop as a result of environmental or lifestyle variables. Parents often feel that they are somehow responsible, however generally speaking there is no primary means of detection or prevention that can be done as with adults (screening). Current research and information suggests that only 10% of children who are diagnosed with cancer are genetically predisposed, however continued developments in understanding the nature of cancers will help to determine factors that impact its prevalence in children. Since these cancers can not essentially be prevented, the objective is to use early detection and follow through with a foundation based on comprehensive medical investigation which must include support by health care professionals and parents. With a more committed sense of urgency based on educating people, regarding the behaviour that may result in the onset in adulthood, individuals with children can provide a starting point by which to combat this debilitating disease. Exposure to certain chemicals including those found in cigarette smoke and processed foods can contribute to the insurgence of cancer at later stages of the child’s life. Certain chronic diseases and infections like HIV, Epstein-Barr virus and Malaria present a multitude of high risk factors for childhood cancers.
Some of the most efficient and practical means by which to approach the realization that a child has cancer is by initiating the battle with an educated and informed mindset. Often family members and parents feel overwhelmed, and become frustrated purely as a result of miscommunication, and a lack of information.
Improving positive outcomes can be achieved through a set of principal and decisive approach methods. The idea is to lessen the weight that cancer imposes on the child’s life by facilitating prompt and accurate diagnoses, coupled with evidence based treatment which is tailored to the specific needs of each child. There are a varied number in respect to the types of cancers which effect children. Leukemias, brain cancers, Lymphomas and solid tumours that encompass Neuroblastomas and Wilms tumours. Determining the type of cancer is a key aspect in achieving a high probability of success in treatment. Special attention must be applied before taking action through investigation based on signs and symptoms. that encompass Neuroblastomas and Wilms tumours. Determining the type of cancer is a key aspect in achieving a high probability of success in treatment. Special attention must be applied before taking action through investigation based on signs and symptoms. Tumours that encompass Neuroblastomas and Wilms tumours. Determining the type of cancer is a key aspect in achieving a high probability of success in treatment. Special attention must be applied before taking action through investigation based on signs and symptoms. that encompass Neuroblastomas and Wilms tumours. Determining the type of cancer is a key aspect in achieving a high probability of success in treatment. Special attention must be applied before taking action through investigation based on signs and symptoms. Early diagnosis provides extensive benefits in terms of the patients response to the selected therapies, and also increases the probability of survival. Cancers that are in advanced stages do not respond as quickly and treatment may be more intensive. Most, if not all currently available approaches to treatment can include one, or a combination of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Three fundamental components form the basis of early diagnosis that begins with an awareness of signs and symptoms by the child’s family and primary health care providers. If concerns are raised in this regard then the next step is an accurate and timely medical evaluation and subsequent diagnosis. This includes an understanding of staging which provides a means of determining the extent to which the cancer has spread. Access to prompt and direct treatment plays a significant role in the effectiveness of therapy, and by all means can tip the scales in favour of survival.
Children need care that adults do not necessarily require. Infants and very young children in particular are dependent on parents for their continued physical and cognitive development. Often referred to as palliative care, this avenue of the therapy process is aimed at relieving symptoms resulting from cancer, and improves the general quality of life for both the child and family members. New research and advances in the fight to alleviate and efficiently treat childhood cancers has thus far recorded a number of victories. One example is the treatment of cancers like Acute Leukemia, which 30 years ago was considered fatal. One of the most prevalent childhood cancers and one of the most debilitating it can now be treated resulting in a five year survival rate exceeding 70%.The treatment of solid tumours has also seen a significant rise in the rate of survival and success by combining a number of varied treatments that may utilise surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Formulating therapy regimes that make use of benefits assigned to each course of treatment has gained great approval from health care professionals globally, essentially giving children with cancer a better chance at life! While not all children who have cancer can be effectively cured, through formulating a strategy based on early and accurate diagnosis and coupled with a foundation derived through specific individualised therapy, more and more children have the probability of successfully relieving the suffering caused by this traumatic disease!