Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit
Principal Consultant- Medical Oncology & Centre Head
Max Multi-speciality Center, Noida
Max Super-Speciality Hospital, Vaishali
WHY CANCER IS INCREASING IN KIDS TODAY AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT……..
CHILDHOOD CANCER IS CURABLE IF DIAGNOSED EARLY AND TREATED PROPERLY
Cancer does not spread from one child to another. Once a child has completed his/her treatment he/she is normal like any other child; he can go to school, play etc.
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Leukemia is a term given for cancers of the blood cells. The type of leukemia depends on the type of blood cell that become cancer cells. Leukemia mostly occurs in adults older than 55 years but children younger than 15 also get affected.
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Scientists have started to understand how DNA changes inside our cells can cause them to become cancer cells. DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid that makes up our genes, which control nearly everything our cells do. We look like our parents because of our DNA. DNA also increases our risks for developing certain diseases, including some kinds of cancer.
Genes control our cells, which grow, divide into new cells, and die. Genes that are mutated and can contribute to the development of cancer are called ONCOGENES. Genes that slow down cell division, repair DNA mistakes, or tell cells when to die are called TUMOR SUPPRESSOR GENES. DNA changes that activate oncogenes, or turn off tumor suppressor genes can cause cancer cells to develop.
INHERITED AND ACQUIRED GENE MUTATIONS
Children inherit DNA from their parents; they also inherit DNA changes or mutations from a parent that increases their risk of obtaining certain types of cancer. These changes are present in every cell of the child’s body, and can be tested in DNA of blood cells or other body cells. These DNA changes are not only linked with an increased risk of cancer, but can cause other health or developmental problems as well.
Children having cancer in childhood are not caused by inherited DNA changes but DNA changes that happen in their early child life, sometimes even before birth. When a cell divides into two new cells it should copy its DNA but sometimes in process of cell division it does not copy DNA perfectly and errors occur specially at growing age when cells are growing rapidly. This kind of gene mutation is called an ACQUIRED MUTATION. Acquired mutations are only in the person’s cancer cells and will not be passed on to his or her children.
The causes of DNA changes in most childhood cancers are not known, but the cancer causing chemicals in cigarette smoke causes gene changes in certain adult cancers.
COMMON CHILDHOOD CANCERS
Every year more than 20,000 children are diagnosed with cancer. Types of cancer common among children, includes –
1- LEUKEMIA (BLOOD CANCER): It is the most common cancer in children affecting 30 % of children with cancer.
2- BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM CANCERS
3- LYMPHOMA (LYMPH SYSTEM CANCERS)
Other common cancer in children are Wilms’ tumors (kidney cancer), neuroblastoma or osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
This information is for general guidance and reflects the opinions and experience of the author. It is not intended to replace specialist consultation or provide treatment advice for specific cases.