(WGHP) — February 15 isInternational Childhood Cancer Day.
The campaign is a global initiative to raise awareness and support for young cancer warriors and their families.
In the Piedmont Triad, that battle often begins at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. You can learn how to support Brenner Children’s Hospital here.
Doctor Thomas Russell, an associate professor of Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology at Brenner Children’s Hospital, joined FOX8 by phone to talk about childhood cancer.
The most common childhood cancers and their symptoms
The most common cancer of childhood is leukemia.
Symptoms of leukemia can initially mimic common symptoms of a mild illness to include fever, fatigue and a decreased appetite. Symptoms that persist without an explanation and/or are associated with weight loss, unexplained bruising or bleeding, paleness of the skin or bone/joint pain should be investigated.
The second most common cancer of childhood includes brain and spinal tumors.
In the case of those cancers, unexplained or persistent symptoms of headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred or double vision, dizziness or seizures should be investigated.
While it’s less common, cancers can also arise from various organs to include lymph nodes, the nervous system, the liver, kidneys and muscles/bone.
If a child develops an unexplained mass or growth, particularly if it’s found on only one side of the body, should be investigated.
Breast, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers are much, much rarer in children than they are in adults.
Overall, childhood cancer is rarer than cancer in adults.
What are the long-term effects on children who have been treated for cancer?
Most childhood cancer treatments have short-term side effects that resolve once they have completed therapy, rather than long-term impacts.
However, some patients could be at-risk for several long-term side effects related to their treatment. If that is the case, pediatric oncologists will continue to help the patient manage those after therapy and into young adulthood.
Every case is unique, and communication with doctors is critical to understanding each individual child’s situation.
How can I support families with children currently battling cancer?
No child or family should have to face a life threatening cancer diagnosis alone. Support comes in many forms – a good way to start is by looking up local, regional and national foundations that contribute to cutting edge cancer research, developing pediatric cancer programs/education or provide financial/social support to patient and their families.