September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect opportunity to learn about an issue that affects thousands of children and families annually. To get you started, here is some general information about cancer in children that should help you get a sense of what we’re up against.
The most common types of cancers among children are not the same as those among adults. Frequently occurring childhood cancer types include leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphoma.
Unlike cancer in adults, cancer in children can rarely be clearly linked to environmental or lifestyle factors and may be difficult to catch early. Because many of the symptoms (such as headaches, vision changes, lumps, limping, and easy bruising) can be caused by a variety of conditions, it is important that parents not take chances and be diligent about getting their children in for regular exams. Places like Health & Wellmobile offer invaluable screening services that allow you to detect cancer when it is still relatively easy to control and treat.
In many cases, treatment for children is somewhat different than it is for adults. For one thing, children are often treated in special centers meant for younger patients. The exact type and intensity of treatment depends on the individual patient and cancer and will be determined by a team of specialists. Types of treatment can include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery.
While many children make a full recovery, others do not. Even the survivors may experience complications from their cancer (and treatment) far into the future. These effects may include psychological pain and changes in the body’s ability to grow properly. It is, of course, much better to face possible side effects than to forego treatment, but prevention of the cancer in the first place is the ideal solution. This is why constant research is incredibly important.
What You Can Do
Donations are always more than welcome, as you can help keep research going and get young patients the financial aid they need for their treatment. Beyond money, you can take an active role in spreading awareness and providing emotional support to the children currently in treatment. There is no one right way to show that you care. Some shave their heads while others run a 5K, organize a community fundraiser, or simply send a card. You will be able to find the route that is the most effective with your means and abilities.