Experts in Pediatric Cancers
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Unlike many cancers in adults, childhood cancers are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental factors, but rather genetic factors such as DNA changes in cells that can take place while a child is still in the womb. In some cases however, environmental factors can play a part.
With some exceptions, childhood cancers tend to respond better to certain treatments such as chemotherapy. Through a combination of advanced clinical skill and cutting-edge technology, our pediatric oncologists diagnose and treat all types of cancers and related diseases in children, including:
Cancer Symptoms in Children
Depending on the type of cancer and your child’s age and health, the disease can have various effects on the body. Cancers in children can be hard to recognize right away because early symptoms are often similar to other, common illnesses or injuries. Cancer in children is not common, but it’s important to have your child checked by a doctor if they have unusual signs or symptoms that do not go away, such as:
- An unusual lump or swelling
- Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
- Frequent bruising
- An ongoing pain in one area of the body
- Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
While these symptoms are likely to be caused by something other than cancer, consult with your child’s doctor immediately if these symptoms persist. Other symptoms are also possible, depending on the type of cancer.
Testing & Diagnosing Childhood Cancer
Our advanced care starts with making an accurate diagnosis. To achieve this, your child’s doctor will order specific tests to determine if your child has cancer, its type, and its location in the body. Tests may include:
- A physical examination
- Blood and urine tests
- X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT or CAT scan, PET scan, and bone scans
- Biopsy to test bone marrow, lymph node, or tumor biopsy for malignant cells
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to determine if any tumor cells have started to spread
- Chromosome analysis of cancer cells
If your child has been newly diagnosed, has a recurring tumor, or has a change in prognosis, our team of pediatric health experts will meet to review your child’s unique case. From there, we’ll develop a treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs.
Treating Childhood Cancer
No matter your child’s condition, you can count on us to deliver advanced care and support. Taking a family-centered approach to care, our multi-disciplinary team of specialists will work closely with you to help you understand the treatment options available. Our team is here to help you begin to navigate your child’s treatment journey.
Depending on your child’s age, overall physical health, medical history, type of cancer and prognosis, and tolerance to certain therapies, our team may recommend a particular course of treatment. Therapies typically focus on eradicating cancer cells or tumors while mitigating the complications of treatment.
Is Treatment Effective?
Most children diagnosed with pediatric cancer will be treated and go on to live productive lives. In fact, three out of four children diagnosed will be cured of their cancer. Early detection and aggressive therapy help to ensure the best possible outcome. New, advanced therapies and methods are helping improve these odds every day. Depending on the type of cancer and your child’s health, advanced treatment can be effective. To ensure their longevity, a young cancer survivor will have to monitor their health for months and years to come.
Contact us to learn more about our pediatric cancer services and life-saving treatments. To schedule an appointment with a SLUCare Physician Group pediatric oncologist, you can call The Costas Center directly or request an appointment online.