Health Days 2011

International Childhood Cancer Day
Scientific Article
International Childhood Cancer Day 2011
Childhood Cancer:
Children's Cancer is a disease that occurs when the cells of the body multiply in an uncontrolled manner creating a lump called tumour. This kind of spreading can affect all body organs and considered fatal. 
Can children develop cancer?
Of course, there are 12 types of children's cancers. Brain tumours and Leukemia are the most common tumours that occur in children. Infants are more likely to have cancer where the risk is reduced as they get older.  
Main Facts
Causes of childhood cancers are mainly unknown.
Between 1998- 2005, the number of children with cancer in the Kingdom (less than 15 years) has reached 6113 cases (3379 were boys and 2734 were girls).
Most cancer cases are Leukemia, Brain Tumours, Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Leukemia is considered the most common type of children's cancers in the Middle East countries.
Children's cancer results from an abnormal change on one cell and start to spread when exposed to Ionizing radiation, chemical substances or by an inherited faulty gene.       
Causes of Childhood Cancer
  • Causes of childhood cancers are mainly unknown. However, there are some cases that may cause children's cancer such as Down Syndromes or other inherited faulty gene.     
  • Old mothers may give birth to children with Down Syndromes which increases children's cancer risk.   
  • Exposed to virus infections which may cause Hepatic Cancer (Hepatitis B) and Kaposi Sarcoma (Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV).
  • Exposed to Ionizing radiation during childhood (causes Leukemia) 
  • Exposed to ultrasound during pregnancy has nothing to do with childhood cancer
  • There is no certain evidence that Non-ionizing radiation may cause children's cancer, such as being exposed to homes power lines magnetic fields.
  • Many studies didn’t prove the relation between smoking mothers before pregnancy and children's cancer.
Signs of Childhood Cancer
Childhood cancer signs and symptoms defers based on the cancer type and the effected body organ.
Leukemia can cause anemia, frequent infections, unusual bleeding, bruises or lumps (which is considered a main symptom for such disease). 
Brain Cancer causes headaches (often with early morning vomiting), eye or vision changes or swollen lymph nodes (related to Lymphoma).
The doctor will do one or more of the following tests:  
  • Physical Examination: ‏doctor will examine the patient body looking for any lumps, mass or changes in skin color which indicates childhood cancer.
  • Blood Tests: blood samples will be taken to see if the child has cancer (i.e. Leukemia)
  • X-rays: (i.e. Ultrasound, Bone Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, CT scan). An x-ray can show if there is a tumour in abdominal organs or bones.
  • Biopsy: a Biopsy sample differs according to the cancer type. It is considered the best way to diagnose cancer.

A quick diagnosis greatly enhances the chance that the child will survive cancer to live a long life.


Periodical medical examinations help in diagnosing cancer in early stages and should be done more often for those who have high risk of developing cancer.
Treating Children's Cancers
It is very important to diagnose children cancer early and gather health status information as much as possible in order to obtain prompt treatment based on the cancer type, stage and child's age since treatment method can be changed whenever new information is available. 
Purposes of Children's Cancer Therapy
Initial Therapy: cutting out the tumour by a surgery.
Support Therapy:  remaining cancer cells after surgery can be killed with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormonal therapy.
 Mitigation Therapy: to control cancer side effects
Children's Cancer Therapy Choices
  • Surgery: the tumour can be cut out during an operation.
  • Chemotherapy: cancer cells can be killed with drugs.  
  • Radiotherapy: cancer cells can be killed by radiation (X ray).
  • Stem Cell Transplantation: is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cell or blood, often derived from bone marrow of the patient body or from a donor. 
Children's Cancer Therapy Side Effects
  • hair loss during therapy
  • loss of appetite
  • infections
  • nausea an vomiting
  • mouth and gum problems
  • anemia
  • constipation
  • skin damage (resulted from radiotherapy)
  • other symptoms may occur such as  skin rash, troubles in breathing, etc…  


There is no a particular way to prevent childhood cancer. However, we can reduce the risk of developing cancer. 
  • periodical medical examinations
  • vaccinations may protect your child from viruses which may cause hepatic cancer and cervical cancer
Family Supporting Role
As a parent, it is very important to be fully aware of your child's health condition and how to deal with your child during his illness or traveling. You must be punctual in hospital's appointments and medication. Go to the doctor as soon as abnormal changes occur. Explain to your child his health condition in a simple way with encouraging him\her to practice their hobbies in order to ease their worries.  
Related sites
American Cancer Society
Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation
World Health Organization
Last Update : 28 March 2011 05:15 PM
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