Sources: National Cancer Institute; US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
ON AVERAGE 1 to 2 out of every 10,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children 1 to 14 years of age. Over the past 20 years, there has been some increase in the incidence of children diagnosed with all forms of invasive cancer, from 11.5 cases per 100,000 children in 1975 to 14.8 per 100,000 children by 2004. In 2007, approximately 10,400 children under age 15 were diagnosed with cancer and about 1,545 children were expected to die from the disease. Although this makes , cancer is still relatively rare in this age group. On the positive side, the 5-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from 58.1 percent in 1975–77 to 79.6 percent in 1996–2003.
Long-term trends in incidence for leukemias and brain tumors, the most common childhood cancers, show patterns that are somewhat different from the others. Incidence of childhood leukemias appeared to rise in the early 1980s, with rates increasing from 3.3 cases per 100,000 in 1975 to 4.6 cases per 100,000 in 1985. Rates in the succeeding years have shown no consistent upward or downward trend and have ranged from 3.7 to 4.9 cases per 100,000. For childhood brain tumors, the overall incidence rose from 1975 through 2004, from 2.3 to 3.2 cases per 100,000.
Despite advances in detection, the causes of childhood cancers remain largely unknown. Some genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome and ionizing radiation exposure, explain a small percentage of cases. A number of studies are examining suspected or possible risk factors for childhood cancers, including early-life exposures to infectious agents; parental, fetal, or childhood exposures to environmental toxins such as pesticides, solvents, or other household chemicals; parental occupational exposures to radiation or chemicals; parental medical conditions during pregnancy or before conception; maternal diet during pregnancy; early postnatal feeding patterns and diet; and maternal reproductive history. Researchers are also studying the risks associated with maternal exposures to oral contraceptives, fertility drugs, and other medications; familial and genetic susceptibility; and risk associated with exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Current treatments for pediatric cancers continue to lag. Most children’s cancers are treated primarily with chemotherapy over the course of one to several years. Some cancers also require radiation therapy, surgery, and/or bone-marrow transplants. Chemotherapy is a group of highly toxic chemical drugs that were developed to kill fast-replicating cells. These drugs are non-specific -they don’t distinguish between diseased and healthy tissuess and result in severe reactions such as hair loss, nausea, significant weight loss and weakness associated with thier toxicity. As if that weren’t enough, most pediatric cancer protocols suggest combination chemotherapy which involves the infusion of several different toxic drugs over the course of time to kill cells at differing levels of development. Radiation therapy, while it can be targeted, is also an indiscriminate killer of healthy tissue and organs. Even if a cure or remission is obtained, children can develop long-term medical problems, including the development of secondary cancers from the chemotherapy or radition itself.
The Lewis Law Firm has a long history of representing children with cancers, and their families in Phildelphia, PA and New Jersey. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with liver cancer, contact the Lewis Law Firm for a FREE consultation and review of your case, today.