<p>A cancer diagnosis can be traumatic and unsettling at any age, even more so if it happens in childhood. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 400,000 children and adolescents develop cancer each year. While cancer signs and symptoms are like other childhood diseases, early diagnosis is imperative and can play a crucial role in curbing the disease and ensuring your child remains protected against the disease. A multidisciplinary approach is vital in managing the disease and a holistic patient experience.
</p><p>The Aga Khan University Hospital has all services under one roof. For childhood cancers, our multidisciplinary team, which includes neurosurgeons, pathologists, oncologists, therapists for speech and physiotherapy, and radiation specialists, work together to help care for all types of childhood cancers.</p><p><strong>Types of cancer</strong></p><p>Children can develop cancers; some are more prevalent than others. Common childhood cancers include Leukemias, Lymphomas, and brain tumours.</p><p>Leukemias, which develop in the bone and blood, comprise up to 28% of childhood cancers. It can cause several symptoms like bone and joint pain, pale skin, bleeding, bruising, and weight loss, among other symptoms. </p><p>Lymphomas develop in immune system cells and often start in lymph nodes or other lymph tissues, like tonsils or thymus. Children who have lymphoma may develop symptoms such as weight loss, fever, sweats, fatigue, and lumps under the skin in the neck, armpit, or groin.</p><p><strong>Main Causes</strong></p><p>While the causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown, approximately 5% of childhood cancers are hereditary genetic mutations and uncontrollable cell growth. Identifying environmental causes of childhood cancer has been difficult partly because it is difficult to determine what children might have been exposed to early in their development.</p><p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.cancer.gov/types/childhood-cancers"><em>National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health Sciences, US Dept. of health and human services</em></a></p><p><strong>Treatment</strong></p><p>While the survival rate in childhood cancers is relatively high, approximately 80% of the patients in western countries receive curative treatment. In Pakistan, no such data is available. However, the trend shows that only 20%-30% are cured, owing mainly to treatment delays and misdiagnosis.</p><p>Most childhood cancers are treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of treatments. The combined use of these therapies has enabled substantial improvements in the long-term survival rates of children over the past few decades.</p><p>While palliative care relieves symptoms caused by cancer and ultimately improves the quality of life for the child and the family. A cure is not possible for all children suffering from cancer, but relief is possible for everyone. Children also need special attention for their continued physical and cognitive growth and nutritional status, which requires regular checkups and supervision from a dedicated, multidisciplinary medical team.</p><p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer-in-children"><em>World Health Organisation</em></a></p><p>To book an appointment call: 021 111 911 911.