Childhood Cancer FAQs – How Does Cancer Differ in Children and Adults?
Cancer begins in adults and children when cells in the body start to grow out of control. There are differences, however, in types of cancers children tend to get and how they are treated. Childhood cancers differ in type from adult cancers in that they’re rarely caused by inherited gene mutations, and they’re rarely strongly linked to environmental or lifestyle factors. The treatments are also often more successful, but long-term side effects can be more of a concern. Finally, children are usually treated at pediatric oncology centers that focus specifically on childhood cancers. Pediatric cancers are best treated by experts who know the nuanced differences between childhood and adult cancers.
What Are Types of Childhood Cancer?
The most common cancers seen in children include:
- Brain and spinal cord tumors
- Wilms tumor
- Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)
- Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)
What Are Childhood Cancer Risk Factors?
Lifestyle and environmental risk factors, such as smoking or drinking, take years to influence cancer risk. As a result, they are not thought to be a cause of most childhood cancers.
What Are Childhood Cancer Treatments?
Treatments depend on the type and stage of each individual cancer. However, common treatments across cancer types, which are often used in combination, are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Sometimes, stem cell transplants, and newer treatments like immunotherapies and drug therapies that target biomarkers are also used. Clinical trials are also important options for childhood cancers as they provide the newest, latest treatment options.
What are Pediatric Biomarkers?
A biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. Finding biomarkers in cells in pediatric cancers can help determine what the best treatment options are. There are drug therapies that target specific biomarkers within the cells to help slow the spread of cancer. As an example, a biomarker in a specific type of pediatric brain cancer can show if the cancer is a faster-growing or less aggressive type of cancer. This, in turn, will affect the treatment plan.
How Do I Enroll My Child in A Clinical Trial?
There are more than 150 clinical trials for childhood cancer patients recruiting in the United States. With such a long list of trials, it is difficult to know which one is the most beneficial for you. Our team of patient advocates, case managers, and our artificial intelligence based clinical trial matching system will find the best option for your child’s individual case. Find clinical trials here.