By Aina Licodine
Indeed, pediatric cancer is a complicated disease. Despite the breakthroughs in science and technology in recent years, the cause of pediatric cancer remains a medical mystery up to this date.
While its point of origin is still unknown, one thing’s for certain— this life-threatening disease that globally affects 300,000 children comes in different forms. In fact, according to Saint Baldrick’s Foundation, there are various types and subtypes of pediatric cancer.
In the Philippines, however, there are only a handful of types that usually strike the young demographic. Leukemia, brain cancer, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor, and osteosarcoma are some of the most common forms of childhood cancer.
Leukemia is one of the most common types of cancer among Filipino children. It is a disease caused by the abnormal growth of white blood cells in the body, There are two types of leukemia: Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), which accounts for 80% of patients, and Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which makes up the 20%.
The early signs of leukemia include pale skin, fatigue, fever, and abnormal breathing. Oftentimes, leukemia can cause swelling, joint pain, headache, vomiting, and weight loss among affected children.
It can be diagnosed through conducting various tests, such as blood tests, bone marrow tests, and lumbar puncture tests.
Brain tumor is a prevalent illness among the young generation in the Philippines. This type of cancer stems from the abnormal growth of cells in the brain tissue of a child, which can either be benign or malignant.
Recurring headaches, nausea, vomiting, and vision problems are symptoms of pediatric brain tumor. Sudden personality changes, memory lapses, speech defects, and motor skill difficulties are also signs of a severe problem in the brain area.
Brain tumor can be determined through a CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
Neuroblastoma often attacks children below five years old. Neuroblastoma refers to the development of defective nerve cells in different parts of the body, mainly in the chest and abdomen area.
Children with neuroblastoma usually experience chest or abdominal pain, bowel problems, bone pain, and skin tenderness.
There are various procedures dedicated to yield an accurate diagnosis of this sickness. There are bone marrow tests, blood tests, physical exams, and imaging tests that can be conducted to successfully detect neuroblastoma.
Children below fourteen years old usually develop lymphoma, a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is composed of the immune system and circulatory system.
Symptoms of lymphoma include fatigue, weight loss, chest pain, night sweats, and swollen glands. The appearance of lumps in the neck, stomach, underarm, and private areas are also telltale signs of lymphoma.
This type of cancer can easily be diagnosed through a physical exam or needle biopsy.
Nephroblastoma, also known as Wilm’s Tumor, is a type of pediatric cancer that originates in the kidney. This disease commonly affects children between the ages of three to five. Nephroblastoma can either be unilateral, affecting only one kidney, or bilateral, attacking both organs.
Children with this kidney disorder usually suffer from abdominal pain, nausea, breathing problem, constipation, and loss of appetite. The presence of blood in urine is also a sign of Wilm’s tumor.
Detection includes a series of procedures, particularly blood test, urine test, physical exam, and imaging tests.
In the Philippines, osteosarcoma is a type of bone disorder that usually strikes both children and adolescents. It is the development of a malignant tumor in the bone which quickly spreads in the tissues and internal organs of the body.
Recurring pain in a specific part of the body is the earliest symptom of osteosarcoma. Children with osteosarcoma also experience tenderness, swelling, and stiffness in the area where the tumor is developing. Aside from that, fatigue, anemia, and motor skill problems can be attributed to this bone disease.
Imaging tests, needle biopsy, blood tests, and bone scans can help in the early detection of this type of pediatric cancer.
Indeed, there are numerous faces of cancer that target the young ones. But while it comes in many forms, this disease can easily be conquered with faith and courage, and most importantly, compassion from people like us. Join us as we give hope to every single child battling cancer. Volunteer now.