Paediatric (childhood) cancers are different from adult cancers as there are no clear causative factors as to why a child gets cancer. The most common childhood cancers are leukaemia, lymphoma and brain cancer.
Cancer in children is certainly distressing but here is a reason to smile-paediatric cancers tend to respond better to treatment, compared to adults. Children can usually be cured for life. It is essential to be patient and trust your doctor.
Different types of cancers in children spread to different organs of the childs body. Leukaemia may affect the brain and spinal cord, testicles, rarely ovaries, kidneys and other organs. Lymphoma may spread to the liver, bone marrow or spleen. Brain tumours may spread to spinal cord tissue. Rhabdomyosarcoma, when it spreads, creates new lesions in the lymph nodes, bone, bone marrow or lung.
Treatment options might include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or other types of treatment. In many cases, more than one of these treatments is used. Treatment of paediatric cancer should always be done in a Childrens Cancer Centre under the care of a Paediatric Oncologist as there is abundant evidence that the expert care in these centres leads to vastly superior outcomes. In advanced cases a Stem Cell Transplant can be life-saving.
The outcomes in paediatric cancers are, in general, much better compared to that in adults. The five-year survival rates for the more common paediatric cancers are:
|Leukaemia||90 per cent|
|Brain and other Nervous System Tumours||71 per cent|
|Wilms tumour (kidney cancer)||88 per cent|
|Hodgkins lymphoma||95 per cent|
|Non-Hodgkins lymphoma||86 per cent|
|Rhabdomyosarcoma||68 per cent|
|Neuroblastoma||74 per cent|
|Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)||70 per cent|
Background and Diagnosis : A six-month-old baby was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, one of the common cancers seen during infancy and known to originate from the nerve cells. The baby underwent surgery and eight cycles of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour at another reputed hospital in Mumbai. However, because that hospital does not perform bone marrow transplants in children below the age of one (owing to the lack of a full-fledged paediatric department and ICU), the family approached Kokilaben Hospital.
Treatment : An autologous transplant, where the patients own stem cells are removed to save them from getting destroyed before a high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatment, was advised. At least 10 specialists from different fields of paediatrics, including cardiologists and intensivists, stood guard in the hospital room for hours as the stem cells were being collected from the baby. We wanted to be prepared for any eventuality. The infants blood pressure was being monitored second by second. The team repeated the process on the second day and collected enough stem cells to proceed with the transplant. The procedure was then carried out successfully.
Outcome : According to the babys mother, the child has been recovering well after the procedure.
Bone Marrow Transplantation, Thalassemia & Sickle Cell Disease , Leukaemia, Lymphoma & Blood cancers, Brain tumours, Neuroblastoma and other Paediatric Tumours