Cancer in anyone is a very upsetting thing to happen and when it occurs in children, it's sadder. It’s occurrence can be avoided sometimes, but if it happens, there is a silver lining to it. Due to the latest developments in childhood cancer treatment, more than 80% of children with cancer now survive 5 years or more or get cured completely.

The treatment for children having cancer also differs from that of adults. As a parent, one may have multiple questions regarding the treatment process like:

What will be the side effects of treatment?
Will it affect the growth of the child?
What will this mean for the whole family?
Will my child get cured?
Confusions will always remain but once you start understanding all about childhood cancer, you might view it from a different perspective.

What is Childhood Cancer?

Cancer in children can occur anywhere in the body, like from the blood, lymph node, brain and spinal cord (central nervous system-CNS), kidneys, eye, testes/ovary or any other organs. Like the usual cancer, healthy cells change and grow out of control. These cells then form a tumor, grow and may spread to other parts of the body.

Some of the types of cancer in children include Leukemia, Brain and spinal cord tumors, lymphomas, Wilms tumor, Neuroblastoma, germ cell tumors etc.

The treatment of childhood cancer depends on the stage the child is. Early diagnosis and early initiation of treatment at a Pediatric Oncology Centre makes a lot of difference. A child is not a miniature adult. They have special needs and need special care. Treating doctors work to develop a plan for it and treat them with compassion, while also taking care of their social and emotional needs.

Causes of Childhood Cancer

The exact cause of cancer is unclear in adults and children. Some of the known causes of cancer in adults have been lifestyle related risk factors, smoking, excess weight, excess alcohol consumption, radiation exposure etc.

But in children, lifestyle factors are not thought to be the reason for this, as they take time to cause effects. Genetic changes due to certain in-utero exposures like infections, radiation, alcohol/tobacco, and hereditary factors may be some of the reasons for cancer in children. Commonly, it occurs because of random mutations (changes) in the genes of growing cells, and as they happen randomly, there is no effective way to prevent them.


Blood tests, biopsy, IHC, Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, Lumbar puncture (spinal tap), CT Scan, MRI, Positron emission tomography (PET-CT) used in relevant combinations are the methods used by doctors to diagnose and stage these cancers.

Author's Bio: 

Written by

Dr. Rakesh Reddy Boya,
Senior Medical Oncologist