Child cancer awareness
Published on September 1, 2014
The devastating effects a terminal disease can have on children and their families are unfathomable. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, The Community decided to take this opportunity to increase parents’ understanding of the deadly disease and how to cope with it.
WHAT IS CANCER?
Cancer begins in the cells of your child’s body. While there are new cells that form and replace the old one, there are times when this biological process goes haywire. Sometimes, new cells form when you do not really need them while old cells that should die, do not. Cancer in children usually occurs early and can be cured with a high rate of success. There are three types of child cancer:
Sarcomas are cancers of the bones, tissues or organs, referred to as a solid tumour. It’s described as a lump of sick cells merged together. They develop in bones, kidneys, liver and brain. Neuroblastoma, Ewing Sarcoma and Wilms Tumours are the three types of Sarcomas.
Leukaemia is the cancer of the white blood cells. These white blood cells (WBCs) form in the bone marrow which aids in the manufacture of red blood cells (carries oxygen and nutrients), WBCs (fights infections) and platelets (prevents bleeding). Leukaemia cells are immune blood cells that prevent the healthy blood cells from working. There are two types of Leukaemia: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
The body has its very own defence mechanism, called the all-mighty immune system, Lymphoma affects this very system. The immune system destroys unhealthy cells in your child’s body. It replaces unhealthy cells with fighter cells known as lymphocytes, in lymphoid tissues in your kid’s body. When the sick cells are unable to function properly and crowd out the healthy cells in immune system, your kid will develop Lymphoma. There are two types of Lymphoma: Hodgkin disease and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR CANCER
While there is cause for worry if your kid happens to have cancer, right treatment can bring out a definite cure.
It refers to the medication that is used to destroy the cancer cells in the body. These medicines are given to treat cancers that respond positively to chemotherapy, to reduce the tumour, thereby making it easier to safely remove it with the help of surgery, to ensure that the other cancer-killing treatments like radiation therapy work effectively and produce the desired results and to control the spread of cancer to ensure that your child lives a long, healthy life with no serious complications or side-effects.
It also plays a pivotal role in the treatment process depending on the extent, type and even the location of the cancer in the body. Types of surgeries include: Open surgery, which is performed on a specific part of the body by making a large cut and then removing the tumour; minimal invasive surgery, wherein small incisions are made by the doctor on your child, primary surgery to remove the tumour at one go and supportive care procedures to help your child cope with the treatments he/she has to undergo to remove the tumour.
This is one of the most effective ways to remove the cancerous tumour from your child’s body. With radiation, doctors aim to shrink the tumour before surgery helps in its removal from the body.
And no, radiation will not make your child radioactive after it is completed. Radiation can be delivered in two ways: Externally and Internally
However, most radiation therapy is delivered externally especially when dealing with paediatric cancer.
During the external radiation therapy, radiation beams are emitted from a machine known as a linear accelerator.
These beams target the tumour in the body. The best part of the therapy is that your child will not see or feel it.
Do have faith, as cancer is largely curable these days. We hope that the information provided will help you on your child’s journey to effectively combat cancer in its initial stages.