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April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

The Basics of Childhood Cancers

The Basics of Childhood Cancers

Many types of cancer affect children. Each has its own set of risk factors, and there isn’t usually much to do in the way of prevention. As is always the case with cancer, early detection is typically one of—if not the—most important factor in successful treatment. One danger is that symptoms and warning signs are often the same as those for more common, less worrisome childhood illnesses. Discuss any concerns with your pediatrician promptly.

Common Childhood Cancers

  • Leukemias (cancers affecting the blood and bone marrow) are the most common childhood cancers, accounting for about 30% of cases
  • Brain/central nervous system tumors are the second most prevalent, making up about 1 in 4 childhood cancers
  • Neuroblastoma often begins in the belly and typically affects infants and young children, accounting for around 6% of childhood cancers
  • Wilms tumors generally affect children age 3 to 4, starting in a kidney (or rarely both kidneys), and making up about 5% of childhood cancers
  • Lymphomas often grow on lymph nodes, tonsils, or the thymus, attacking immune system cells; the two primary varieties—Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma—account for approximately 3% and 5% of childhood cancers respectively
  • Different types of bone cancers typically appear in older children and teens, making up about 3% of childhood cancers
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma tumors generally begin in cells that grow into skeletal muscles, accounting for around 3% of childhood cancers
  • Retinoblastoma, an eye cancer, usually affects children around 2 year old, making up about 2% of childhood cancers

Common Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Cancers

  • Lumps, bumps, masses, or swelling
  • Wan appearance
  • Low energy
  • Easy or strange bruising
  • Chronic localized pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Chronic unexplained fever or illness
  • Headaches, possibly accompanied by vomiting
  • Changes to the eye or vision
  • Unexplained, quick weight loss


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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.



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