All kinds of cancer, including childhood cancer, have a common disease process. Cells grow out of control, develop abnormal sizes and shapes, ignore their typical boundaries inside the body, destroy their neighbor cells, and ultimately can spread (or metastasize) to other organs and tissues. As cancer cells grow, they demand more and more of the body's nutrition. Cancer takes a child's strength, destroys organs and bones, and weakens the body's defenses against other illnesses.
The burden of cancer among our nation's children has been increasing slightly, by about 0.6% per year, since 1975. Cancer related mortality in children ages 0-14 has been decreasing by 0.9% per year since 1997. The 5-year relative survival rate for all three age groups has increased significantly since the mid 1970s. For example, among children ages 10-14 years, the 5-year relative survival rate increased from 58.9% for those diagnosed in 1975-77 to 80.8% for those patients diagnosed in 1999-2005.
Cancer is a complex disease that involves over 100 different variations or subtypes. While 99% of cancer develops in adults, 1 in every 285 children will have cancer before they reach the age of 20. For those children that are diagnosed with the disease, there is confusion and pain, and a litany of treatments that drag the entire family into overwhelming turbulence.
The most horrifying words parents can hear is “your child has cancer.” We have put together some of the basic information and statistics to assist in trying to make order out of the chaos of cancer. The information has been gathered from various reliable sources that study and report on cancer and may be one or more years old based on the report results.
What Is Leukemia?
Leukemia is usually thought of as a children’s condition, but it actually affects more adults. It’s more common in men than women, and more in whites than African-Americans.