Cancer is a general term given to diseases caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Awareness and attention to adult cancers have grown exponentially over the past decades, but unfortunately, there is much less awareness and knowledge about childhood cancer. One most important thing that must be kept in the mind regarding Cancer is that it is not infectious. It can’t spread to one person from another person and likewise. It is a noncommunicable disease however in certain cases it has been highlighted that cancer can run through families through genes.
Cancers in Children: Most Common – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
The incidence of childhood cancers varies with age, sex, and race. The most common childhood cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It has incidence peak between 2 to 5 years of age. Other childhood cancers like Neuroblastomas, Retinoblastomas, Wilm’s tumor, etc also occur under 5 years of age. Childhood Sarcomas usually occur at pubertal age. The most childhood cancers have a slight male preponderance except Wilm’s tumor.
If there are two proven causes of childhood cancers have to mentioned here-
· High dose ionizing radiation
· Prior exposure to any chemotherapy drugs.
About 5-10% of all cancers in children are caused by an inherited genetic mutation (a mutation that can be passed from parents to their children).
Causes of cancers in children:
- Genes – Most cancers in children, like those in adults, are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer. In adults, these gene mutations are often the result of exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, asbestos, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
- Environmental Reasons – Environmental causes of childhood cancer have been difficult to identify, partly because cancer in children is rare, and partly because it is difficult to determine what children might have been exposed to early in their development.
- Other reasons – Inherent risk factors like low and high birth weight, advanced paternal age and common genetic variations may also lead to childhood cancers.
Therefore it is always advisable to keep children away from all possible exposure of radiation either environmental or mechanical and possible exposure air pollutants and chronic infectious illnesses.