Childhood cancer awareness month is an annual national health campaign organized by major childhood cancer organizations to increase awareness of pediatric cancer and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. It is symbolized by Gold Ribbon.
Eighty per cent of cases of childhood cancers are in the developing world, where survival averages 20 per cent.
Worldwide, it is estimated that childhood cancer has an incidence of more than 175,000 per year, and a mortality rate of approximately 96,000 per year.
The causes of pediatric cancer are still largely unknown, and though new discoveries are resulting in new treatments, this heart-breaking disease continues to scar families and communities in ways that may never fully heal.
Overall for children and adolescents, the most common types of cancers are leukaemias, which are cancers of the blood or bone marrow cells; brain and central nervous system tumours, including cancers of the spine; and lymphomas, which are cancers of the lymph nodes or glands). However, the types of cancer can vary by age.
Let us have a look at some of the childhood cancers related to gastrointestinal tract:
The age of disease onset lies in infancy or early childhood (median age of occurrence is 18 months and 90% of HBs present before 5 years.
The most common signs are:
- Abdominal distension and abdominal mass,
- Anorexia, weight loss, fatigue,
- Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting,
- Jaundice is less frequently observed,
- Anaemia and thrombocytosis detected by laboratory tests.
Surgery is necessary to cure hepatoblastoma. But because of the size of the tumour, it’s not possible in most children at the time they’re first diagnosed.
Chemotherapy helps shrink the tumour so that doctors can remove it. Sometimes the tumour is so large that a liver transplant is needed because the whole liver must be removed to get the entire tumour.
Radioembolization (or Y90) is a type of therapy that delivers high-dose radiation directly to the liver tumour through the bloodstream. The doctor inserts a tiny catheter (plastic tube) in the groin and passes it to the artery closest to the tumour. This procedure protects much of the normal liver tissue from the effects of Y90.
2. Colorectal Cancer:
Colorectal cancer often has few symptoms
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- A feeling that the bowel is still full even after passing stools (pooping)
- Blood in the stool
Surgery: Early detection makes this one of the most effective ways to treat colorectal cancer.
Medication: This includes not only chemotherapy but also targeted drug therapies and immunotherapy.
Radiation: Depending on the stage of your child’s cancer, this may be recommended along with other treatment methods.
Primary intestinal lymphoma is rare. It usually means a tumour that is made up of lymphoid cells & can affect any part of the digestive system.
The treatment involves chemotherapy. Long-term outcomes are usually good in children.
Dr Harsh Shah
Liver, Pancreas & Cancer specialist Doctor in Ahmedabad, India