Although pediatric cancer is relatively rare, it is the leading cause of disease-related death in children and adolescents in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, 43 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer every day. However, cancer death rates in this age group have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The most common types of cancer among children are acute leukemias, brain tumors and lymphomas. Childhood cancers are very different than those that are seen in adults. While there are typically risk factors that can be altered to help prevent the risk of cancer in adults, most cases of childhood cancer are sporadic or related to inherited genetic mutations or disorders. It is important to know that if a child is diagnosed with cancer, there is typically nothing that could have been done to avoid the diagnosis.
However, healthy habits started in childhood can help decrease the risk of cancer in adulthood, including a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, plenty of physical activity, consistent sunscreen use, and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke.
Over the past 60 years, there has been significant improvement in childhood cancer outcomes due to children and parents choosing to participate in clinical research. Many children and parents will choose to participate in trials to help prevent future children from having to go through the same situations. Because of this research, most children diagnosed with cancer will be cured.
Jamie Dargart, MD, MS, is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital. At the hospital, she serves as the principal investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to pediatric cancer research. Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital is the only children’s cancer center in Northwest Ohio to participate in COG.
Learn more about childhood cancer and cancer care at ProMedica.