Pediatric Cancer Month
Annually, September is Pediatric Cancer Month. Across the country, organizations come together to raise awareness for the 42 families each day that receive a diagnoses that their child has cancer. More than just a difference in age, pediatric cancers, too, are treated differently and grow differently than in adults. Unlike cancers in adults, childhood cancers have no direct ties to lifestyle or environmental risk factors, making understanding them more difficult.
Luckily, however, (save for a few exceptions) pediatric cancers tend to respond more quickly and better overall to chemotherapy than adults do. On the other hand, pediatric cancers in younger children tend to have more difficulty with radiaton therapy. Regardless of treatment, long-term side effects of their treatments mean they must have life-long follow-ups.
Approximately 10,000 children under 15 will be diagnosed annually and, more than 80% will survive 5 years of more, compared to 58% in the mid-1970s. Major strides in research have occurred and rates are increasing. “In the United States, most children and teens with cancer are treated at a center that is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). All of these centers are associated with a university or children’s hospital,” writes the American Cancer Society.
“These centers offer the advantage of being treated by a team of specialists who know the differences between adult and childhood cancers, as well as the unique needs of children and teens with cancer and their families.” As always, consult your child’s physician for any health concerns.
However, most importantly, families need to understand their child’s treatment and that they are not alone. Organizations in Kentucky, like Norton Children’s Hospital and nationwide, like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the American Cancer Society, exist for the purpose of finding treatments and serving as a resource for those going through them.