How Do Children's Cancers Differ From Adult Cancers?

This is Michael. September is fully upon us now and I hope that everyone that follows and supports our Foundation can engage with us to promote awareness for our efforts to educate about childhood cancer. Part of the reason that I want to post a fact about cancer in children for every day in September is to arm all of you so that you can educate others. Many of the facts we post are well known to those that support CKc or have followed Cannon and other children that have suffered from cancer. Others are new to the cause, but regardless of when you first became aware of our world of children's cancers, it's always good to go back and re-emphasize certain facts. For example, we meet many people who are sympathetic and supportive but ask why cancer from children is different than that in adults. The answer to that is, in some way, quite simple, but in other ways complex. The simple answer is that cancer diagnosed in an infant, toddler, child, pre-teen or teenager is unnatural, and a parent having to bury their child lost to cancer is not natural order and a horrific tradgedy. The complex answer has to do with what most people don’t appreciate:  Did you know that there are 12 primary types of cancer found in children, but only one of those (leukemia) is also shared by adults?  Wilm’s Tumor, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Retinoblastoma, Osteosarcoma, Neuroblastoma, Medullablastoma, Ewing’s Sarcoma - these are all forms of cancer in children that are almost never found in adults. Survival rates for these compared to adult forms of cancer? Dismal and not good.  

Why? Lack of research to find new ways to treat cancers found only in children. Some cancers almost never strike after the age of 5; others occur most often in teenagers. Even when kids get cancers that adults get - like lymphoma - the medical world agrees that they must be treated differently. One of the first things taught in medical school is that children are not small adults! Yet, in the world of children’s cancer, kids are treated almost entirely with cancer drugs and therapies that were developed for adult forms of cancer. Children’s cancers are not linked to lifestyle factors (example: smoking) or environmental factors like many adult forms of cancer, and little can be done to prevent them. Almost all pediatric cancers are diagnosed at Stage 3 or Stage 4 because early detection methods are virtually non-existent. So little research has been done in the area of what causes cancer in children that we know virtually the same today as we did 40 years ago and relapse of most pediatric cancers is largely a "cross your fingers and hope" proposition. Hard to believe, right? All true. Unacceptable.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research for less painful therapies for children’s cancers, more effective treatments and especially the development of therapies specifically for children, and ultimately an end to cancer in children. If you would like to help, please visit our website at www.cannonballkidscancer.org .