September is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The goal is to bring awareness to the fact that childhood cancer remains the leading cause of death for children under the age of fifteen (15). The color gold and wearing a Gold Ribbon in September symbolizes acknowledgment of how precious children are and the resiliency of childhood cancer heroes.
According to Saint Jude’s Hospital:
- Cancer kills more children in the US than any other disease,
- At least 300,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed each year with cancer,
- Thanks to better therapies, more than 80% of US childhood cancer patients now become long term survivors, and
- About 400,000 adults in the US are childhood cancer survivors
There are many types of childhood cancer found in different places throughout the body. The most common cancer in children is leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Cancer can also occur in organs and tissues such as lymph nodes (lymphoma), nervous system (brain tumors) and muscles, bone and skin (solid tumors).
The cause of childhood cancer is not completely understood. Cancer is less likely caused by environmental and lifestyle factors. Instead, cancer-causing genetic changes (called mutations) are most commonly thought to occur by chance. In about 8% of cases children are born with genetic changes that increase their risk of getting cancer.
Most signs and symptoms of possible cancer are likely caused by something other than cancer, such as injury or infection. If your child has any of these symptoms see a doctor so the cause can be found and treated. They are as follows:
- An unusual lump or swelling
- Unexplained paleness & loss of energy
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Any ongoing pain in one area of the body
- Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes
Cancer treatments are always changing. They are becoming more targeted such as immunotherapy which harnesses the child’s own immune system to attack cancer cells and leaving healthy cells healthy. Researches and doctors continue to search for safer and effective treatments which increase remissions, reduce long lasting chronic conditions and ultimately cure childhood cancer.