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After Treatment—Living as a Childhood Neuroblastoma Cancer Survivor

Tag Archives: Neuroblastoma

Living as a Childhood Neuroblastoma Survivor

IMG_2186Treatment for neuroblastoma can be long, difficult, and traumatic, not only for the patient but also for friends and family. Once treatment has ended and your child has been declared “cancer free”, it is very common for everyone—patient and family alike—to look forward to returning to “normal life.” And for the most part, it is possible to get back to a life that doesn’t revolve around childhood cancer. At the same time, however, it is important to recognize that childhood cancer has both short- and long-term consequences—both physical and emotional—that can continue to impact your child’s return to cancer-free normalcy.

Experts agree that the first step in facing life as a neuroblastoma survivor is working with your child’s oncology team to develop a comprehensive survivorship care plan. Such a plan can act as a checklist to help you ensure your child’s short- and long-term health, both physical and emotional, as well as smooth the transition back into a normal cancer-free life. Although the basic outline of any survivorship care plan is fairly standard, your child’s specific plan will be unique to him or her, depending on the characteristics of your child’s cancer and its treatment, as well as your child’s general health.

Your Child’s Survivorship Care Plan

Follow-up exams and tests

One of the most common concerns among parents and families of childhood cancer survivors is, will the cancer return? As of right now, scientists do not believe that there are any steps a parent or child can do after treatment has concluded to reduce the potential for recurrence. Parents can, however, develop—and then stick to—a scheduled plan of follow-up tests and scans. Depending on your child’s risk grouping, size and location of the original tumor, and other factors, tests will probably include both lab work and imaging tests such as PET scans, CT scans, and/or MRIs. As time goes on without recurrence, the time between tests will increase, and eventually the focus may switch to early detection screenings that focus on long-term health effects and/or secondary cancers.

Maintain complete and accurate medical records

As your child begins life as a childhood cancer survivor, it is important to remember that neuroblastoma will impact your child’s life for years to come. Therefore, it is critical to maintain accurate and complete medical records of your child’s entire cancer journey, from first diagnosis through treatment and including post-treatment screenings. Should your child experience health concerns later in life, future physicians will need to know this part of your child’s medical history in detail in order to develop a correct and comprehensive treatment plan.

Possible short- and long-term health effects of neuroblastoma and its treatment

Neuroblastoma and its treatment can, unfortunately, have long-term health effects, often called “late effects.” These may stem from the cancer itself, or from the treatment required to fight the neuroblastoma. Some late effects may present during or immediately after treatment; some may not begin until years later. Some of the most common late effects of neuroblastoma include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Bone and/or musculature problems (such as scoliosis)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Growth and development concerns
  • Fertility problems
  • Neurological concerns
  • Secondary cancers
  • Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (a very rare syndrome in which the body’s immune system begins to attack normal nerve tissue, causing learning disabilities, delayed muscle development, language delays, and behavioral problems)
  • Problems with the eyes or with muscle twitches (common in children with tumors located in the neck or chest, may require further treatment with corticosteroids or IVIG)

Emotional and social concerns

In the eagerness to return to “normalcy”, it can be all-too-easy to overlook the emotional stress that childhood cancer puts on both the child and his or her family, emotional stress that can continue to linger once treatment is complete. For older children, returning to school and social activities can prove more challenging than many families anticipate. Many cancer treatment centers can provide access to social workers and counsellors who can help families recognize and cope with the emotional strain of childhood cancer and its treatment.

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

 

Statistics on Five-Year Survival Rates for Children with Neuroblastoma

IMG_2275Any discussion of prognosis or outlook is usually based on five-year survival rates, or the percentage of children with a specific type of cancer who live at least five years after their initial diagnosis. These numbers are based on studies performed at least five years ago, and so may not reflect improvement in treatment options for some types of cancers. Moreover, these numbers are merely averages and do not indicate the outlook or prognosis for your specific child. Your child’s oncologist will be able to give you a better understanding of your child’s unique case based on his or her type of cancer, age, general health, and response to treatment.

Staging and Prognosis Factors for Neuroblastoma

Five-year survival rates for neuroblastoma are based on a complex system that involves a detailed understanding of the stage of the disease at diagnosis and a series of “prognosis factors”. Currently, statistics on survival rates for neuroblastoma are maintained by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), which classifies all cases of neuroblastoma into three risk groups: low risk, intermediate risk, and high risk. These risk grouping are based the disease’s stage and prognosis factors.

Staging: There are two different methodologies to determine the stage of disease, or how far the disease has spread beyond the site of the original tumor:

  • INRGSS: International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Staging System utilizes the results of imaging tests such CT, MRI, or MIBG scans and can be determined before treatment has begun.
  • INSS: International Neuroblastoma Staging System assesses staging after surgery to remove the tumor is performed.

Prognosis factors: these are certain markers that can indicate whether a specific neuroblastoma may respond better or worse to treatment, and can impact a child’s long-term outlook. Specific prognosis factors used to help assign risk for neuroblastoma are:

  • Age: children under 12-18 months tend to have a better long-term outlook than older children
  • Tumor histology: when examined under a microscope, tumors that contain more normal-looking cells tend to have a better prognosis (favorable histology v. unfavorable histology)
  • DNA ploidy: in young children, neuroblastoma cells that contain the same amount of DNA as normal cells (a DNA index of 1, or diploid) seem to respond less favorably to treatment than those that have an increased amount of DNA (a DNA index greater than 1, or hyperdiploid).
  • MYCN gene amplifications: neuroblastomas with too many copies of the MYCN oncogene (a gene that helps regulate cell growth and division) seem to grow more quickly and respond less well to treatment.
  • Chromosome changes: scientists are just now beginning to understand how the presence or lack thereof of certain chromosomes with the DNA structure of the cells can impact the prognosis for neuroblastoma.
  • Neurotrophin (nerve growth factor) receptors: Neurotrophin is a chemical that helps nerve cells mature. Neuroblastomas that have more neurotrophin receptors, especially those receptors called TrkA, are associated with a better long-term outlook.

Five-Year Survival Rates by Risk Group (COG Risk Groupings)

Low Risk: Children whose neuroblastoma is considered “low risk” have a five-year survival rate that is higher than 95%. The low risk group incorporates children who fall into the following categories:

  • All Stage 1 diagnoses
  • Stage 2A or 2B and under 1 year of age
  • Stage 2A or 2B, older than 1 year of age, with 0 extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 2A or 2B, older than 1 year of age, with extra copies of the MYCN gene and a favorable histology
  • Stage 4S with favorable histology, hyperdiploid, and no extra copies of the MYCN gene

Intermediate Risk: Children whose neuroblastoma is considered “intermediate risk” have a five-year survival rate of 90-95%. The intermediate risk group incorporates children who fall into the following categories:

  • Stage 3, under 1 year of age, no extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 3, greater than 1 year of age, no extra copies of the MYCN gene and a favorable histology
  • Stage 4, under 1 year of age, no extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 4S, no extra copies of the MYCN gene and has normal DNA ploidy and/or has an unfavorable histology

High Risk: Children whose neuroblastoma is high risk have a five-year survival rate of 40-50%.

  • Stage 2A or 2B, over 1 year old, with extra copies of the MYCN gene and an unfavorable histology
  • Stage 3, under a year old, with extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 3, over a year old, with extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 3 and over 18 months old, with an unfavorable histology
  • Stage 4 with extra copies of the MYCN gene
  • Stage 4 and over 18 months old
  • Stage 4, between 12 and 18 months old, with extra copies of the MYCN gene, unfavorable histology, and/or a DNA index of 1
  • Stage 4S with extra copies of the MYCN gene

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

 

For additional information about childhood cancer or on ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org.

 

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is the most common form of cancer in children under the age of one, and accounts for about 6% of all types of childhood cancers. It develops in neuroblasts, or immature nerve cells, that should eventually mature into nerve cells. In most cases, neuroblastoma is detected after a parent or guardian notices unusual symptoms, which often relate to the origin site of the neuroblastoma. About 33% of neuroblastomas begin in the nerve clusters near the adrenal glands. About 25% start in the sympathetic ganglia (a type of nerve cell cluster) in or near the abdomen. About 42% of neuroblastomas begin in sympathetic ganglia near the spine. However, in a majority of cases (about 66%), the cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes and/or bones at the time of diagnosis.

Common Symptoms of Neuroblastoma

Because neuroblastoma occurs most frequently in newborns and very young children, a neuroblastoma diagnosis is usually made after a parent, guardian, or caretaker notices one or more unusual symptoms and takes the child to a pediatrician. The most common symptoms of neuroblastoma include:

  • Enlarged belly
  • Swelling in the legs or in the face, neck, and/or upper chest
  • Lump or swelling in the abdomen or neck, usually without pain
  • Bluish lumps or bumps in the skin
  • Weight loss
  • Not eating or complaining about feeling full
  • Issues with urinating or bowel movements
  • Issues breathing or swallowing
  • Bone pain
  • Drooping eyelid and small-looking pupil in one eye
  • Bulging eyes and/or bruising around the eyes
  • Issues with being unable to feel or move parts of the body

neuroblastoma symptomsIn many cases, symptoms of neuroblastoma are caused by a tumor, or mass of cancerous cells, that becomes visible through the skin or begins to press on other organs of the body. The location of the primary tumor will impact the specific symptoms the child is experiencing. For instance:

  • Tumor in the abdomen or pelvis: If the tumor is located in the abdomen or pelvis, a loved one may notice a large lump or swelling in that area. Usually the swelling is not painful. However, it can cause the child to eat less; he or she may complain of feeling full or experience belly discomfort. These symptoms can, over time, lead to weight loss. If the tumor begins to press against blood or lymph vessels, it can lead to swelling in the legs and, for boys, the scrotum. It can also impact the bladder or intestines, causing issues with urination or bowel movements.
  • Tumors in the chest or neck: Tumors located in the neck may look or feel like a hard, painless lump. When located in the chest, the tumor may begin to press on the superior vena cava, a large vein through which blood exits the head and neck. This pressure may lead to swelling in the face and upper body, sometimes accompanied by a bluish-red skin color. It may lead to headaches, dizziness, or even a change in consciousness. If the tumor begins to press on the throat or windpipe, it can cause coughing or trouble swallowing or even breathing. A tumor that presses on specific nerves in the neck or chest will lead to symptoms in the areas that nerve controls, such as the eyes or the limbs.

Symptoms caused by neuroblastoma that has spread

In about two-third of all neuroblastoma cases, the neuroblastoma has spread beyond its point of origin into other areas of the body, usually the lymph nodes and/or the bones. As the cancer spreads, it begins to cause symptoms in other ways. For instance, if it has spread to the lymph nodes, the cancerous cells may cause the lymph nodes to swell. While in the vast majority of cases, swollen lymph nodes are caused by a common infection, they should be checked by a physician.

Neuroblastoma can also spread to the bones, which can be extremely painful. It may cause the child to complain of bone pain (if old enough to talk), or cause the child to limp or refuse to walk. If it spreads to the bones in the spinal cord, it can lead to weakness, numbness, or even paralysis in the arms and/or legs. If it spreads to the bones around the eyes, it can lead to bruising or bulging eyes. If it spreads to the bones of the skull, it can cause bumps under the scalp.

One particular type of neuroblastoma, found only in the first few months of life, is known as Stage 4S neuroblastoma because the tumor has spread to the liver, the skin, and/or the bone marrow. This leads to very specific symptoms such as blue or purple bumps on the skin, an enlarged liver felt as a mass on the right side of the abdomen, and difficulty breathing if the tumor has grown large enough to press on the lungs. However, despite the fact that it is widespread, Stage 4S neuroblastoma is very treatable, and sometimes even shrinks or disappears on its own.

Paraneoplastic Syndromes

Paraneoplastic syndromes are problems stemming from hormones released by the neuroblastoma. These unusual hormones can impact the normal functioning of nearby tissues or organs, even if the tumor itself has not spread into those areas. This can lead to a range of additional symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • High blood pressure (irritability)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Constant watery diarrhea
  • Reddening or flushing of the skin
  • Sweating

And most unusually, neuroblastoma can cause a set of symptoms called opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia syndrome or “dancing eyes, dancing feet.” A child with this syndrome will have irregular and rapid eye movements and twitch-like muscle spasms, and will lack coordination when standing or walking. Although researchers do not understand why, neuroblastomas in children who exhibit these unusual symptoms seem to be less life-threatening that other forms of neuroblastoma.

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

 

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

What Causes Neuroblastoma?

neuroblastoma-stage-1Neuroblastoma is caused by the abnormal development of immature nerve cells known as neuroblasts. As a fetus develops, most neuroblasts grow and eventually become mature nerve cells either before birth or in the first few months after birth. However, in some cases, neuroblasts do not develop correctly. Instead of becoming mature nerve cells, they continue to grow and divide. In some cases, these abnormal neuroblasts simply die off; however, in some rare cases, they develop into tumors or neuroblastoma.

Because neuroblastoma begins with the abnormal development of fetal neuroblasts, it is the most common type of childhood cancer in children under the age of one. As children grow out of infancy, these abnormal neuroblasts become less likely to either develop correctly or die off and more likely to turn into neuroblastoma. The average age of diagnosis for neuroblastoma is between 1 and 2 years of age, while 90% of all cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed by the age of 5. Neuroblastoma is rarely found in children over the age of 10.

Unfortunately, scientists do not know why some neuroblasts develop and mature normally and others do not. Research is beginning to show a link between the development of neuroblastoma and abnormal changes to the DNA in the neuroblasts. These DNA mutations cause neuroblastoma cells to have an abnormal chromosomal structure (either too many or too few chromosomes). The abnormal chromosomal structure may cause the neuroblasts to develop into neuroblastoma; it may also impact how quickly the neuroblastoma grows and develops. In rare cases, this abnormal DNA is inherited from a parent. However, in most cases, it is the result of random gene changes that occurred at some point in the child’s development.

Can Neuroblastoma Be Prevented?

Random DNA mutations during fetal development, like the ones that scientists believe may be linked to the development of neuroblastoma, are random events that, in most cases, do not have a specific cause or trigger. Scientists do not believe that these specific DNA mutations are caused by lifestyle or environmental factors (as is the case with some types of adult cancers). Therefore, there is no way to prevent these DNA changes or the development of neuroblastoma. In fact, at this time, there are no known ways to prevent most forms of childhood cancer.

What are the Risk Factors for Neuroblastoma?

A “risk factor” is something that may impact your child’s chances of developing cancer. For example, some types of adult cancers may be linked to lifestyle choices, such as smoking, or environmental factors. However, there are no known risk factors linked to lifestyle or environment for most forms of childhood cancer, including neuroblastoma.

The two biggest risk factors for neuroblastoma are age and heredity.

  • Age: Most causes of neuroblastoma are diagnosed in children between the ages of one and two, and 90% are diagnosed before the age of 5.
  • Heredity: 1% to 2% of neuroblastoma cases seem to be the result of a gene inherited from a parent. Children with familial neuroblastoma usually have one or more family members who also had neuroblastoma as infants.

However, it is important to remember that neuroblastoma is an extremely rare disease, with only about 700 cases diagnosed each year.

Scientists also believe that having birth defects, or congenital anomalies, may also be a risk factor for neuroblastoma. Although the link is not yet clearly understood, scientists believe that genetic mutations in the DNA that cause birth defects may also increase the likelihood of abnormal cell development leading to the development of childhood cancer. Again, however, it is important to note that neuroblastoma is extremely rare and most children with a congenital abnormality will not develop neuroblastoma.

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

 

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

Angela’s Story

DCP_4957Today, we would like to share with you Angela’s story. Angela is a long-term survivor of neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that originates in the neuroblasts, or early nerve cells, in the nervous system of an embryo or fetus. Yet like nearly 90% of childhood cancer survivors, Angela continues to suffer from late effects, long-term health problems resulting from the toxic chemicals requires to treat and destroy the tumor. Her story shows that for many childhood cancer warriors, the journey is never truly over.

Angela’s Miracle Journey

Angela’s childhood cancer journey began on the first day of spring in 1973, just after her third birthday. During a routine well visit, her pediatrician became concerned after examining her abdominal area. He suggested that Angela and her family go immediately to Henrietta Egleston Children’s Hospital at Emory University for x-rays and a CT-scan. The diagnosis was devastating: stage 3 neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor growing between the abdominal aorta and the kidney. Even for Angela’s father, a general practitioner and former employee at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, the next few days were a blur; years later, Angela’s parents still find it difficult to recount what happened during those days with any clarity.

Treatment for neuroblastoma involved surgery and a year of chemotherapy. Initial scans of the tumor had shown it to have reached stage 3, meaning that it had begun to grow and spread to areas adjacent to the original growth site. In most cases, stage 3 neuroblastoma is extremely difficult to remove entirely through surgery. Yet in Angela’s case, because of the quick thinking of her pediatrician, her neuroblastoma was caught before the onset of symptoms and before it became widespread. Her oncology team was able to successfully remove the entire tumor. In Angela’s own words: “Today, when I see someone who knew what I endured, they say I’m a miracle child and that my life is a miracle!”

Late Effects of Childhood Cancer

Angela endured a year of chemotherapy treatments when she was only three years old. Chemotherapy works by targeting deadly drugs at and near the site of cancerous tumors. These drugs kill cells that are in the process of growing and dividing. Because cancer cells grow and divide more quickly than normal tissue, they are more susceptible to the drugs than healthy cells. Yet children like Angela are still growing and developing, so chemotherapy treatments designed for adults can have devastating, long-term repercussions on the young bodies of childhood cancer patients.

At some point in her adult life, Angela realized that she was having trouble with both her short- and long-term memory. In fact, she cannot state with any certainty when she began to notice that her memory was problematic. By 2008, however, she could no longer ignore the problem, so she and her father visited her oncologist, who informed her that memory loss was a common side effect stemming from the toxicity of childhood cancer treatments. “Chemotherapy took away my ability to drive a car and I’m battling daily problems with memory lapses.”

In March 2011, Angela celebrated her 34-year “cancerversary”, but it was a bittersweet anniversary at best, because in addition to ongoing memory problems, Angela was also battling serious dental issues and problems with her teeth, another very common side effect for children who have undergone lengthy chemotherapy treatments. And just under a year later, Angela was diagnosed with yet another late effect involving an “imbalance disorder.”

It is still very difficult for Angela to think about write about these health problems, to understand why, after so many years, she continues to face ongoing medical issues stemming from a disease she fought more than 35 years ago. And yet she understands that she must face each new battle with the same determination with which she fought cancer: “And so… with lots of help, love, encouragement, strength, prayers and support from my awesome and beautiful friends and family…my life, though very different now, I still go on! One day at a time…one hour at a time!”

About the American Childhood Cancer Organization

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, the ACCO is the sole US member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, the ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, the ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

 

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org.

 

 

For more information about the American Childhood Cancer Organization and how we can help, call 855.858.2226 or visit:

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When we hear the word “cancer”, most of us immediately think of adult cancers, the ones at the center of glamorous media campaigns, well-publicized fundraising drives, and focused research efforts, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, just to name a few. When we hear the words “childhood cancer”, most of us probably think of those same cancers, just in miniature, and assume they have the same causes and the same treatment protocols. In fact, childhood cancers are very, very different than adult cancers, and require very different, specialized treatments.

Childhood cancer” is a general term describing more than 12 different types of cancer, each of which has numerous sub-types, and each of which requires precise treatment protocols tailored to the small, still-developing bodies of children. The American Childhood Cancer Organization is dedicated to raising awareness about the unique challenges presented by childhood cancer, and the desperate need for new and better treatment protocols that will target these dangerous cancers without the permanent and disabling late term effects that are the all-too-common result of treating childhood cancers with drugs developed to cure adult cancers. We encourage you to read about these most common forms of childhood cancer below, and support the ACCO in its mission to improve the lives of children facing this dreaded disease.

Childhood Leukemia

Leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, covering more than 30% of all childhood cancers. Leukemia originates in the soft inner part of the bone—the marrow—which is responsible for the development of blood cells. It usually affects the development of white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infection, compromising the body’s ability to fend off disease and heal itself, but leukemia can develop in other types of blood cells as well. The two most common forms of leukemia in children are Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). The good news is that treatments for childhood leukemia have greatly improved in the past decade, and the five-year survival rate is now over 85% for ALL, and over 70% for AML.

Central nervous system and brain tumors

This is the second most widely seen cancer in kids, making up approximately 26% of all childhood cancers. There are several categories of brain tumors and the treatment and prognosis of each of the type is different, depending on a variety of factors including where the tumor is located, the areas of the brain and/or nervous system it is affecting, and how quickly it is growing. It has been observed that children who suffer from such cancer tend to develop tumors in the lower portion of their brain, such as the cerebellum, or the spinal column. Such tumors can cause trouble with object handling, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, nausea and headaches.

Neuroblastoma

This type of childhood cancer starts in nerve cells inside a developing fetus or embryo, and grows into tumors in nerve clusters. While neuroblastoma can develop in any part of the body, it is most commonly found in the abdomen. It is by far the most common form of cancer in infants, and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 1 and 2, although can be diagnosed in children as old as 10. Unfortunately, early diagnosis is very difficult, and in 2 out of 3 cases, the disease has already spread to the lymph nodes by the time of diagnosis.

Wilms Tumor

Wilms Tumor develops in or near one or both kidneys, and may even begin developing while the children is still in the womb. It is usually diagnosed in children between the ages of 3 and 4 years old, and is rarely seen in kids above 6 years old. It usually shows as a lump or swelling in the abdomen. The child may often have other symptoms such as poor appetite, nausea, pain, and fever. Wilms Tumor contributes to about 5% of cancers in children.

Bone cancers

Bone cancers in children usually fall into one of two main groups. The most common form—Osteosarcoma—develops in the bones around the knees or near the ends of the long bones of the legs, although it does occasionally occur in the arm bone near the shoulder, the hip bone, or even the jaw. Ewing sarcoma (Ewing family of tumors) is a less common form of bone cancer, usually forming in the pelvis, the chest wall (ribs and shoulder blades), or the middle of the long bones of the leg. While both forms of bone cancer are most commonly diagnosed in teenagers and older children, they can be found in younger children as well. There are some commonalities between these two types of bone cancer, but they respond differently to current treatment protocols.

If you are interested in learning more about these or other forms of childhood cancer, if you would like to know more about the critical need for additional research into the causes and appropriate treatments for childhood cancer, or you would like to support the ACCO’s mission to support all children coping with cancer or its long-term effects and their families, we encourage you to visit www.acco.org to find out how you can help!

For more information about the American Childhood Cancer Organization call 855.858.2226 or visit: