Childhood Cancer Occurrence, Symptoms

Childhood Cancer Occurrence, Symptoms

The incidence of cancer in children and adolescents has been increasing over the past decade. Pediatric tumors constitute 6-8% of all cancers in India.

The rate of survival in well-developed countries is 80-90% compared to developing countries which is only 20-30%. Lack of access to health care, delay in diagnosis, stigma of cancer, and financial constraints have been the main reasons for low cure rates in our country.

Unlike many cancers in adults, Childhood Cancers are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors and only a small number are caused by DNA (gene) changes that are passed from parents to their child. This is the reason why screening or preventive strategies for childhood cancers are not described.

The types of cancers that occur most often in children are different from those seen in adults.

The most common cancers in children are:

The most common cancers in children are:

  1. Leukemia (Blood cancer)
  2. Brain and spinal cord tumors
  3. Neuroblastoma
  4. Wilms tumor
  5. Lymphomas
  6. Rhabdomyosarcoma
  7. Retinoblastoma
  8. Bone cancer

Signs and symptoms of cancer in children:

  1. An unusual lump or swelling anywhere in the body
  2. Unexplained paleness and easy fatigability
  3. Easy bruising or bleeding
  4. Bone pains/ Limping
  5. Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
  6. Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
  7. Sudden eye or vision changes
  8. Sudden unexplained weight loss
  9. Other symptoms are also possible, depending on the type of cancer.

Most of these symptoms are much more likely to be caused by infections, trauma, or other diseases. Still, if your child has any of these symptoms, consult your doctor so the cause can be found and treated if needed.  Early diagnosis and treatment are the key to cure in childhood cancers.

Treatment for childhood cancer is based mainly on the type and stage of the cancer.

The main types of treatment used for childhood cancer are:

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiotherapy
  3. Chemotherapy
  4. High-dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, are being increasingly used in treating some types of childhood cancer.

Written by


Dr. Y Rajani Priya,
Medical Oncologist
Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Visakhapatnam