Types of Cancer in Children
In the United States in 2017, an estimated 10,270 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed among children from birth to 14 years, and about 1,190 children are expected to die from the disease. Although pediatric cancer death rates have declined by nearly 70 percent over the past four decades, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. The most common types of cancer diagnosed in children ages 0 to 14 years are leukemias, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors, and lymphomas.
Treating Childhood Cancer
Children’s cancers are not always treated like adult cancers. Pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused on the care of children with cancer. It’s important to know that this expertise exists and that there are effective treatments for many childhood cancers.
Types of Treatment
There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Learn about these and other therapies in our Types of Treatment section.
Before any new treatment can be made widely available to patients, it must be studied in clinical trials (research studies) and found to be safe and effective in treating disease. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials.
Our site has information about how clinical trials work. Information specialists who staff NCI’s Contact Center can answer questions about the process and help identify ongoing clinical trials for children with cancer.
Children face unique issues during their treatment for cancer, after the completion of treatment, and as survivors of cancer. For example, they may receive more intense treatments, cancer and its treatments have different effects on growing bodies than adult bodies, and they may respond differently to drugs that control symptoms in adults. For more information, see the PDQ® Pediatric Supportive Care summary. Late effects of treatment are discussed later on this page in the Survivorship section.
Where Children with Cancer Are Treated
Children who have cancer are often treated at a children’s cancer center, which is a hospital or unit in a hospital that specializes in treating children with cancer. Most children’s cancer centers treat patients up to age 20.
The doctors and other health professionals at these centers have special training and expertise to give complete care to children. Specialists at a children’s cancer center are likely to include primary care physicians, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, pediatric surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and psychologists. At these centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children, and the opportunity to participate in a trial is offered to many patients.
At the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, NCI’s Pediatric Oncology Branch cares for children with cancer. Health professionals and scientists conduct translational research that spans basic science to clinical trials to improve outcomes for children and young adults with cancer and genetic tumor predisposition syndromes.
Coping with Cancer
Adjusting to a child’s cancer diagnosis and finding ways to stay strong is challenging for everyone in a family. Our page, Support for Families When a Child Has Cancer, has tips for talking with children about their cancer and preparing them for changes they may experience. Also included are ways to help brothers and sisters cope, steps parents can take when they need support, and tips for working with the health care team. Various aspects of coping and support are also discussed in the publication Children with Cancer: A Guide for Parents.
It’s essential for childhood cancer survivors to receive follow-up care to monitor their health after completing treatment. All survivors should have a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan, as discussed on our Care for Childhood Cancer Survivors page. That page also has information on clinics that specialize in providing follow-up care for people who have had childhood cancer.
Survivors of any kind of cancer can develop health problems months or years after cancer treatment, known as late effects, but late effects are of particular concern for childhood cancer survivors because treatment of children can lead to profound, lasting physical and emotional effects. Late effects vary with the type of cancer, the child’s age, the type of treatment, and other factors. Information on types of late effects and ways to manage these can be found on our Care for Childhood Cancer Survivors page. The PDQ® Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer summary has in-depth information.
Survivorship care and adjustments that both parents and children may go through are also discussed in the publication Children with Cancer: A Guide for Parents.
The causes of most childhood cancers are not known. About 5 percent of all cancers in children are caused by an inherited mutation (a genetic mutation that can be passed from parents to their children).
Most cancers in children, like those in adults, are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer. In adults, these gene mutations reflect the cumulative effects of aging and long-term exposure to cancer-causing substances. However, identifying potential environmental causes of childhood cancer has been difficult, partly because cancer in children is rare and partly because it is difficult to determine what children might have been exposed to early in their development. More information about possible causes of cancer in children is available in the fact sheet, Cancer in Children and Adolescents.
NCI supports a broad range of research to better understand the causes, biology, and patterns of childhood cancers and to identify the best ways to successfully treat children with cancer. In the context of clinical trials, researchers are treating and learning from young cancer patients. Researchers are also following childhood cancer survivors to learn about health and other issues they may face as a result of their cancer treatment. To learn more, see Childhood Cancers Research.
April 10-14 is National Cancer Registrars Week. Are you taking care of or know any patients who are battling the big C?
Despite the advanced technology and modern treatment plans, we, as nurses, should still value the proven benefits of prayers in healing our patients. We should take care of their faith and spiritual health as much as we care for their physical and mental needs.
Here are some of the most powerful healing prayers for cancer you can share.
A healing petition
May God heal me, body and soul. May my pain cease, may my strength increase, may my fears be released, May blessings, love, and joy surround me. Amen.
Prayer for easing pain
Father, with you nothing is impossible. You are God of all flesh; we love you and we are confident that no situation is too hard for you. We come to you on behalf of this dear one seeking healing from cancer. God, Jesus Christ has fully paid the price by the stripes He took; we therefore are asking that the devourer gets off from this child of yours in Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.
Prayer for healing
Father God, we humbly pray for all those who are fighting cancer. Give them the hope and courage they need each day. Comfort them in their pain and bless them with healing. Strengthen their family, friends, and caregivers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for cancer fighters
Heavenly Father, Give all cancer fighters comfort when they are in pain. Lay your healing hand on all and remove every cancer cell so that they may be healed! Amen
Prayer for physicians and nurses
Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon your blessed name and we pray for your merciful heart to surround these with love, strength, and courage and we ask Your hands to touch them with the power of healing. May they be directed to the right treatment in Your blessed name as we ask You Lord to represent the physicians, nurses, and medical care aids and administer them in Your spirits. May every cancerous cell be cast out and replaced with good ones. May every spot of this deadly cell be wiped out by Your powerful hands.
Prayer through St. Jude
God of healing mercy, in Jesus your Son you stretch out your hand in compassion, restoring the sinner, healing the sick, and lifting up those bowed down. Embrace us now in your loving care, particularly those afflicted with cancer, for whom this intention is offered. May the Spirit of Jesus bring us all health in soul and body, that with joy and thanksgiving we may praise you for your goodness, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
See Also: 20 Short But Effective Prayers for Surgery
Prayer through Saint Peregrine
O great St. Peregrine, you have been called “The Mighty,” “The Wonder-Worker,” because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.
For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.
(Pause here and silently recall the names of the sick for whom you are praying)
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.
Through Saint Agatha
Oh St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for her devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom. Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity. Oh St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. Amen.
Prayer for strength
Lord, at the moment nothing seems to be able to help the loss I feel.
My heart is broken and my spirit mourns. All I know is that Your grace is sufficient. This day, this hour Moment by moment I choose to lean on You, For when I am at my weakest Your strength is strongest. I pour out my grief to You And praise You that on one glorious day When all suffering is extinguished and love has conquered We shall walk together again.
See Also: 35 Nurse’s Prayers That Will Inspire Your Soul
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The Truth 365 has launched a week-long selfie campaign aimed squarely at the National Cancer Institute, which allocates a mere 4% of its funding to pediatric cancer research. My Facebook feed is filled with children–those still fighting, those who are NED, or those who are related to children who have died from the disease–holding a sign that says “More than 4.”
It’s a powerful campaign, not just for its message, but because it’s grounded in the children. Children whose lives have been touched by the awful world of cancer.
It appears that the people who work at the National Cancer Institute are not too happy with the campaign, standing firmly in their belief that they are doing their part and the children and their families are wrong to insinuate otherwise. They believe that the allocation of 4% is appropriate, if not inflated, according to a scientist who provides support for the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics of the National Cancer Institute, Childhood Cancer Research. According to this scientist (unofficially), childhood cancer research appears to get 5 times its fair share of federal funding for research. In fact, these were his words (taken from a post on The Truth 365’s Facebook feed):
“Given that less than 1% of all cancers affect people younger than 20 why is 4% not enough? In 2014, 855,220 men and 810,320 women were diagnosed with cancer, while 310,010 men and 275,710 DIED. So childhood cancers at 13,500 represent about 0.8% of the total but absorb 4% of funding. That looks like 5x overfunding if you assume proportionality is equitable. So there are non sequiturs in the unsupported assertions.”
Forget about the fact that this man just swept 13,500 children under the rug as if they don’t matter. Forget about the fact that these children won’t get the chance to grow up and even have the chance of being affected by the cancers that these 275,710 adults died from. Forget about the fact that unlike adults, when a 7-year-old, for example, dies, that’s a loss of, on average, 70 years of life lost. To a disease for which the only treatment is often chemotherapies that are over 30 years old and created for adults.
Even if you forget all that, how can you forget that at the heart of this campaign are CHILDREN? Children who are suffering from cancer and its treatment. Search the hashtag #Morethan4 on Facebook, Tiwtter, and Instagram. You’ll see that the kids holding these signs are almost always bald, emaciated, traumatized children pleading with the NCI to allocate more money to saving their lives. And this guy’s response is that childhood cancer is OVERFUNDED? How can he sleep at night, knowing how his words betray each and every one of those children and their families?
Here’s the bottom line: One of every three children diagnosed with cancer will die from the disease or from the antiquated adult-based treatments used to cure it. So to those who say the success rate of curing kids with cancer is high so more funding for research is not needed, you’re grossly misinformed. And if childhood cancer is so rare that it doesn’t warrant more funding, why is my Facebook feed filled with children fighting one of the many 12 types (and 200 subtypes) of this awful disease: Neuroblastoma, DIPG (which has a 0% survival rate), osteosarcoma, hepatoblastoma, medullablastoma, Ewing’s Sarcoma, ALL, AML, AT/RT, and so many more?
Sorry, National Cancer Institute: 4% is NOT enough. So don’t dare try to justify it.