What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which the basic unit of our life, “Cell” multiples without any control. Either the combine together to form a tumor of effect other organs hazardously after mixing with blood and altering the physiological function of normal cell.
What cause Cancer in Children?
Why children get cancer is still not know. Virus, chemicals, environment pollution and radiation my play a role is some childhood cancer but in majority it is due to interaction of genetic and environment factors. Although sometime cancer in children can be familial majority cancers are not hereditary. It cannot occur in a child due to something done or not done by the parents and they should not feel any guilt whatsoever for their child illness with cancer.
How common is Cancer in Children?
Fortunately the incidence of cancer in children as compared to adult is quite low. Out of cancers in all age group only 3% to 5% occurs in children less then 15 years of age. Approximately 100-120 children kids and in Karachi 500 children get cancer every year.
What types of Cancer are seen in Children?
Leukemia (Blood Cancer) 35% & Lymphoma (Cancer of Lymph glands) 20% are two most common cancers we see in Pakistan. Other common Cancer are Retinoblastoma (Eye Cancer) Wilm’s Tumor (Cancer of Kidney), Neutoblastoma, Brain Tumor, Cancer of Bone, Muscles, Soft Tissue and Liver etc.
What are Sign & Symptoms of Cancer in Children?
There is no specific sign and symptom of cancer in children. It depends on the type and site of cancer. Generally the child may present following signs & symptoms: 1. Repeated episodes of fever of long duration without any obvious cause. 2. Continuous headache with nausea& vomiting. 3. Bleeding & bruises without any trauma. 4. Persistent and progressive enlargement of any lymph gland or tumor not responding to usual treatment 5. Weight loss and pallor. 6. White reelection of eye balls (like cat eye shining in the dark). Presence of above signs and symptoms are not diagnostic of cancer and may occur in other disease, but in case these persist one should consult the doctor to exclude cancer.
Is Cancer Curable in Children?
YES, of course! Fortunately with the help of modern scientific research, more then 75% of children with cancer get cured in developed countries. Even in developing country like Pakistan we can achieve a survival rate of more then 50% to 60% provided they are diagnosed early and get adequate treatment.
Does the Child remain normal after Treatment?
Although some late facts are seen in children treated for cancer majority live a normal healthy life. Many survivors of childhood cancer have become fathers and mothers and their children are as normal as other child.
Is Cancer Contagious?
No, absolutely not! Cancer is not a contagious of infectious disease, and therefore there is no chance of involvement of any other person on contact basis. The child should not be isolated from siblings and friends, for this reason.
Is Cancer in Children different from Adult?
Childhood Cancers are different from adult. No only they look different under microscope, their biological behavior is also different. Childhood cancer usually grows faster hence response to chemotherapy very well. The cure rate of childhood cancer is far better then adult.
Is Facility of Treatment for Childhood Cancer Available in Pakistan?
Answer to this question is relatively difficult. Just for the sake of answering it is “YES”, but the number of quality pediatric cancer units are far less in number then required. We do have all the drugs available but for majority it is not affordable.
How much does it Cost to Treat a Child with Cancer?
The exact answer to this question is again difficult. As the cost depends very much upon the type, presenting status of the disease, the complications that may occur during the course of management and treatment center. However, it costs about Rs. 1,00,000/- to 3,00,000/- for an average child.
How can we Prevent Cancer in a Child?
As we do not know the exact cause and in the most childhood cancer environmental factors do not playa major role there is very little we can do to prevent cancer in children. However. I must mention children must not take betel nuts (Chalia) and Carcinogenic agents.

As the patient is receiving chemotherapy, what to do if s/he has:

Drink plenty of fluids and increase the child’s fiber intake. It’s okay to use Milk of Magnesia. But if the problem persists, refer to the consultant oncologist.

Kaopectate may be used. Make sure the child drinks plenty of fluids. Clear fluids such as soups and broth are good choices. Avoid foods that will make the diarrhoea worse such as fatty foods and milk. Contact immediately if the problem does not go away within 24 hours.

Nausea and Vomiting
The doctor will prescribe medicines for nausea. Foods that are cold and do not take a great deal of preparation are often better tolerated than warm foods. Make sure that the child avoids his favourite foods when nauseated. Contact your consultant immediately if the problem persists for more than 24 hours.

Fever and chills
An unexpected new fever or chills puts the child at high alert while pointing towards a serious infection. The white Cell count is diminished seven days to two weeks after chemotherapy thus an easy target for opportunistic infections.

Quite a common complaint during the course of chemotherapy, the child may need frequent rest.