Health & Fitness

Common Childhood Cancers And Treatment Options  

The body is made up of cells that are vital to life. When some of these cells grow out of control, they become abnormal.

The body process for growth of new cells involves replacing old cells with new ones but sometimes the process goes wrong and then new cells are formed even when the body does not need demand the old cell refuses to die.

These extra cells can form a tumour, which is either benign or malignant. Malignant tend to be cancerous because they invade surrounding tissues while benign tumours are not cancerous. There are over 200 different types of cancer. Cancer that occurs in adult varies largely from those that occur in children. The commonest types of cancer that affect children are

  1. Leukemia
  2. Brain and spinal cord tumors
  3. Neuroblastoma
  4. Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)
  5. Rhabdomyosarcoma
  6. Retinoblastoma
  7. Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)
  8. Wilms tumor


Leukaemia is cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It accounts for 30% of all the cases of cancer affecting children. Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML) are the commonest types of Leukaemia found in children. Children with this disease often suffer weakness, bone and joint pain, fatigue, bleeding, fever, weight loss etc.  As soon as acute leukaemia is detected, it needs to be treated quickly because it grows fast.

Brain and Spinal cord tumours

Most brain tumours in children occur in the lower parts of the brain causing blurred vision headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and seizures, finding it hard to handle objects and walk properly. Spinal cord tumours are not as common as brain tumours. Brain and Spinal cord tumours account for 26% of childhood cancer. It is second to Luekaemia in its prevalent among children.  There are different types of brain tumours that demand different treatment.


Neuroblastoma develops in infants and young children less than 10 years old. Usually, it grows from some nerve cells in the foetus.  This can occur in any part of the body but it usually starts in the belly as a swelling, which causes bone pain and fever.  It accounts for about 6% of childhood cancers.

Wilms Tumour

Wilms tumour also is known as nephroblastoma affects the kidney. It is common among kids between 3 to 4 years old. It can present as a lump or swelling around the abdomen. Some of the symptoms are fever, pain, nausea, or poor appetite. Wilms tumour accounts for about 5% of childhood cancers.


Lymphomas affects the immune system cells known as lymphocytes. It also affects the bone marrow and other organs of the body. There are two main types of lymphoma -Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of the symptoms of lymphomas are weight loss, fever, sweats, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes under the skin.


This type of cancer affects the cells responsible for the growth of skeletal muscles. It can start in any part of the body. It presents with swellings and pain at the part affected.


Retinoblastoma is the type of cancer that affects the eye. It usually occurs in children around the age of two, and it is rarely found in children older than 6. The child’s eye is unusual in the sense that when you shine a torch on the pupil it turns white instead of red.

Bone Cancers

This type of cancer affects the bones. It often occurs in teens and older kids but it can start at any age.  The two main types of bone cancer found in children are Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.

Treatment of Childhood Cancers

The treatment for cancer depends on the type of cancer involved and how advanced it is. These treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, stem cell transplants and targeted therapy.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy refers to drugs that kill actively growing cancerous cells. Cancer cells grow rapidly without heeding the normal signals of the body that control the growth of cells.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, also known as targeted therapy or biotherapy. It is a cancer treatment that invigorates a patient’s immune system so it is equipped to fight disease. This is done in partnership with other cancer treatments.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation is a form of X-rays that is used to create images of areas of the body that cannot be easily seen. Cancer treatment requires higher doses of radiation. It works by preventing and destroying the growth and reproduction of dividing cells

Bone marrow transplant: This involves the replacement of the faulty spongy tissue or stem cells  inside the bones.  These stem cells are the ones that develop into red blood cells, which helps to fight infections. This is used in the treatment of bone cancer.

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Simple Ways Of Preventing Cancers At Home

The human body is made up of millions of tiny cell that have different functions. There are chemicals inside the cells that instruct it to grow or stop growing. As the cell grows it divides and new cell replace old cell.

Cancer grows when the cells do not get the right message, which makes them grow abnormally or multiply beyond what the body needs at a time.

Cancer does not have a clear cut cause so any one can come down with cancer but there are factors that make certain people more likely to get it than others.

Factors that Predispose You to cancer
• Smoking which can lead to lung cancer.
• Spending a lot of time under the sun can lead to skin cancer.
• Carcinogens: these are substance capable of causing cancer such as chemicals, asbestos fibres etc.
• Too much intake of alcohol can lead to some types of cancer.
• Having an history of cancer in the family
• People who do not have a strong immune system

You can prevent cancer to the best of your ability by doing the following;

Avoid smoking: Smoking is tied to making diseases and cancer e.g. cancer of the throat, lungs, pancreas, bladder, kidney, cervix and larynx. Smoking does not just affect the smoker, it affect the inhaler( the people who inhale it around knowingly or unknowingly). Your decision to stop smoking is one of the best health decisions you can make in order to live a long life.

Eat healthy foods: Say NO to junks (cakes, pies,) processed food item( meat, fish and other canned foods), sodas and soft drinks. Regularly take a large helping of vegetables, fruits and nuts to boost your kids’ ability to fight against the onset of childhood cancer.

Be Active: There are loads of activities that you and your family can engage in to keep fit. Involve your kids in walking, running, cycling and even swimming. Make it a daily routine for your kids to have a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise.

Reduce exposure to sun: Going to places under the sun sometimes is unavoidable but you can minimise it to the barest minimum by wearing protective clothing.  Then avoid the midday sun by staying under shades during hot days.

Boost your immunity: As you strive to protect your kids from childhood cancers, you can also immunise them from viral infections by ensuring they take the hepatitis B , Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine make sure you protect them from viral infections as well. So get immunisation shots from Hepatitis as well as Human papillomavirus (HPV).

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