JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new World Health Organization study shows that childhood cancers have risen by 13 percent globally over the past 20 years and Dr. Scot Ackerman of the Ackerman Cancer Center said that there are some warning signs parents need to be aware of.
The study's numbers may be a bit misleading because of better detection and the improvement in diagnosis and better recording of information in developed countries that has led to a better understanding of the incidence of childhood cancers.
In the United States, cancer in children is rare. Less than one percent of cancer diagnoses are in children. Of those, one third of cancer cases in children under the age of 15 were Leukemia.
Right now 80 percent of childhood cancers are cured," Ackerman said. "Leukemia is a big part of that. Advances in treatment of leukemia is why so many children with childhood cancer, survive cancer. That’s very different than it was in the 80s when Leukemia was a death sentence."
Childhood cancers are most likely triggered by the child’s genetic make-up rather than lifestyle or environment, which takes many years to influence cancer risk, but there are some warning signs that parents can look out for.
"There’s not a lot you can do to prevent childhood cancer, but, you do want to identify childhood cancer early," Ackerman said. "Any kind of lump, swelling that is unusual or sudden weight loss."
Other warning signs can include:
- Easy bruising
- Ongoing pain in one area of the body
- Fever or illness that doesn’t go away
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes