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Treatment and complications in childhood cancer

Posted Oct 27 2012 8:44am


Childhood cancer is quite uncommon. In fact, it is hard to determine whether a child has been affected with cancer or not. There is simply no symptom till the mid-level stages. And it also becomes tougher for doctors to treat children who have been diagnosed by cancer. That might be the reason that around 60% of the children (age group not exceeding 15 years) being affected with cancer as a part of clinical trial.

What is Clinical Trial?

Well, Clinical Trials can be defined as medical research studies which compare the best proven treatments till date with newly developed ones. The entire process is based on a trial and error basis. New treatments are monitored carefully using several scientific methods. Remember, each and every participant is followed in the closest way possible to track on their health condition and progress level.

In order to take full advantage of newer treatments, every child being affected with cancer should receive the treatment at specialized cancer diagnose centers. It can be well assumed that the doctors available in there feature extensive level of experience and expertise in treating childhood cancer. They also have access to latest research papers and diagnostic equipment. There are several instances when an expert panel of medical practitioner’s works with a certain cancer affected child and his/her family to provide with the ultimate care. Such a panel of experts is often referred to as Multidisciplinary Team.

Let's have a look at some of the most common treatments for Childhood Cancer. Always remember, childhood cancer treatment depends a lot on different factors. Some of these are:

• Stage
• Type
• Side Effects
• Patient's family preferences
• Overall health of the child

The different type of childhood cancer treatments available these days are:

1. Chemotherapy
2. Surgery
3. Stem Cell / bone marrow transplantation
4. Immunotherapy
5. Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy is basically the use of certain drugs to deactivate and eliminate the cancer cells. The drugs prevent those cells from growing or spreading into other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is given either through mouth (taking of pills) or injecting the drug into vein, spinal fluid, muscle, or even under the skin. The injection procedure is much more advantageous to reach the cancer cells present all over the body.

Pediatric oncologist gives the chemotherapy treatment to children suffering from cancer. Patient can receive only a single drug or even multiple drugs at a time.

Complications of chemotherapy involve fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, as well increased risk in bleeding and infection.

Surgery is done to remove the tumor (expected to be cancerous) surrounding some particular tissue region, during operation. In fact, most of the children having tumor need to get it operated at some point of time. The tumor may not always be of cancerous origin. But it definitely needs to be removed. And the best way to remove it is through surgery. A surgical oncologist needs to be consulted for the process.
Complications and side effects are same as mentioned above (see Chemotherapy section). However, those depend entirely on the type as well location of tumor. The size of tumor also plays a major role in the creating complications.

Stem Cell / Bone Marrow transplantation is a process where the cancer-affected bone marrow is replaced with hematopoietic stem cells (considered highly specialized stem cells).

Complications are minimal in this process. However, it is the most expensive of all the cancer treatments.
Immunotherapy is the process to increase the body's natural immunity power to fight against cancer. The process involves use of certain materials (prepared mostly in laboratory) to bolster, target, and restore the functions of immune system. Some examples include interferon’s, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer vaccines.
Complications are minimal and not severe.

Radiation Therapy is the process that involves use of high-energy (UV) rays from X-ray devices to eliminate the cancer germ cells affecting certain areas of body. A Radiation Oncologist carries out the treatment.
Complications are higher that may include nausea, fatigue, loose motion, as well skin allergies.

Author Bio: Guest author and blogger Aubree Parsons contributed this post. Ms. Parsons other work can be found at The Hurrycane .

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