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Causes of childhood cancer and myths related to it

Childhood cancer It is a subject full of many myths that often give rise to misconceptions and unreasonable fears. It is important to debunk these myths to develop better understanding Childhood cancersupporting the affected ChildrenAnd ensuring that they navigate their challenging journeys with hope and resilience.

But, before talking about myths, let’s take a look at the causes of childhood cancer:

causes of childhood cancer

Dr. Vasudev Bhatt K, MDDM (Pediatric Oncology), who is Associate Professor and Head-in-charge of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, said, “Childhood cancers are a unique type of cancer whose cause is uncertain, although most cancers are curable if diagnosed early. It is estimated that about 78,000 children under the age of 19 in India are suffering from some form of cancer.”

Common cancers seen in childhood include acute leukemia (blood cancer), solid tumors arising from organs such as adrenal gland-neuroblastoma, kidney-Wilms tumor, and medulloblastoma. The most common type seen in childhood is blood cancer followed by brain tumor.

The outcomes of childhood cancer remain one of the most impressive among all cancers across all age groups.

Dr. Vasudev Bhat further said, “The most common myth about childhood cancer is that these disorders are genetic in nature. Only about 5-10% of childhood cancers are genetically caused, while the remaining 90-95% of cancers are Due to this.” “For multifactorial reasons.”

Genetic disorders include:

  • Inherited genetic changes – which are transmitted from parents

Example- Retinoblastoma- Eye tumor can be inherited from parents, if the parent had the tumor in childhood. Similarly, the risk of cancer in childhood increases in Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Fanconi anemia and von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.

  • genetic changes early in development

Example: Children with Down syndrome are 10-20 times more likely to develop leukemia than children without Down syndrome.

Environmental exposures that cause cancer formation in children include exposure to cigarette smoking, prolonged exposure to UV rays, repeated exposure to ionizing radiation such as CT scans, exposure to pesticides, and certain viral infections.

Myths related to childhood cancer

Now that we know the reasons, let’s look at the myths and misconceptions related to childhood cancer, as told by experts.

According to Dr. Amish Vora, pediatrician and neonatal intensivist at Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, “A prevalent myth claims that cancer In Children It is synonymous with the death penalty, signaling the end of their life. Contrary to this critical perception, progress has been made cancer “Treatments have significantly increased survival rates over the past two decades.”

“Another widely held misconception places the blame on parents, pointing out that Childhood cancer It is a result of their actions or negligence in some way or the other. However, unlike adult cancer Where environmental factors and lifestyle play an important role, Childhood cancer This is not caused by dietary habits or the actions of parents. It often arises due to genetic changes that occur during a ChildHe said, “Birth or time in the mother’s womb frees the parents from any blame.”

Moreover it is often believed that Children should not be told about them cancer Diagnosis. However, respecting a ChildUnderstanding and including them in the process helps them cope better, promoting a sense of control and understanding.

Dr. Muralidhar Bora, who is MBBS, DNB (Radiation Oncology), FIHPRT and Consultant Radiation Oncology, mentions the following myths associated with childhood cancer.

Myth 1: Childhood cancer is rare

fact: Although childhood cancer is less common than adult cancer, it is not as rare as is often believed. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 285 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20. Rates of childhood cancer can vary, but it is important to recognize that it is a significant health concern that affects many families. Whole world.

Myth 2: Childhood cancer is preventable

fact: Unlike some adult cancers, which may be linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking or poor diet, childhood cancer prevention is not well understood. Many childhood cancers are caused by genetic mutations or factors that cannot be prevented. However, regular pediatric checkups and early detection can improve outcomes.

Myth 3: Childhood cancer only affects older children

fact: Childhood cancer can occur at any age from childhood to adolescence. There may be specific types of cancer commonly associated with each age group, but it is important to know that cancer can affect children of all ages.

Additionally, Dr. Rajat Bhattacharya, who is Senior Consultant, Pediatric Hematology Oncology Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at Apollo Cancer Centre, Kolkata, listed the following:

Myth 4: Childhood cancer has specific symptoms

fact: Childhood cancers have no specific symptoms and most mimic common childhood illnesses such as infections. The persistence of nonspecific symptoms should alert parents and physicians to the possibility of cancer.

Myth 5: Children develop the same types of cancer as adults

fact: Although there are some similarities the spectrums are different. The two common cancers in children are leukemia (blood cancer) and brain tumors followed by lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands).

Myth 6: Children can’t tolerate chemotherapy

fact: Children can actually tolerate chemotherapy much better than adults and they also recover from side effects faster than older adults. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment with various new drugs and new modalities including immunotherapy, where applicable, are absolutely critical in improving outcomes while reducing the toxicities of cancer treatment in children.

Talking further about the side effects of chemotherapy, Dr. Prashant Mehta, who is senior consultant in the department of medical oncology at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, said, “To minimize the adverse effects in very young children, the dosage of the drug can be reduced to a common are typically reduced and/or calculated differently than in adults. Radiation therapy is usually avoided in very young children to avoid developmental disturbances. Survival issues in the context of children are very More relevant are, such as psychological effects, effects on sexual health, adolescent health, effects on education or school, and physical activity. Adequate counseling and support can help mitigate some of these issues.”

Lastly, Lieutenant General (Dr) Velu Nair, PVSM, AVSM, VSM** (Retd) who Chief and Chief Advisor, Hemato-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Apollo Hospitals, Gandhinagar dispels the myth that cancer is contagious, saying, “One cannot get cancer from another person as it is not contagious like flu and spreads by touching, playing or sharing food. 100% safe for anyone including me.” To connect with children suffering from cancer.”

Anil Nair, CEO of St. Jude India Childcare Centre, concludes, “Myths about childhood cancer hinder the path to understanding and treatment. Apart from providing medical care, the mission is to dispel the stereotypes associated with childhood cancer. “Rather than being defined, these young fighters are defined by their limitations, by their hope, resilience and limitless potential.”

(Disclaimer: The information provided in the article, including treatment suggestions shared by doctors, is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified person regarding any medical condition. healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding.)

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