Childhood cancer is rarer than cancer in adults.
In recent years there have been significant improvements in survival rates for certain cancers, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common childhood cancer.1 Even so, understanding what childhood cancer is and how it works can help families prepare for a diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Let’s dive deeper into what you should know about childhood cancer, such as how it differs from cancer in adults and some common types.
Childhood cancer, or pediatric cancer, refers to abnormal cell growth that affects children and teens. This involves the uncontrollable or atypical growth of cells in the body to form tumors. Some tumors are benign and do no harm, while others are malignant and can spread to nearby tissue and other parts of the body.
Environmental and lifestyle risk factors don't play a big role in childhood cancers. The causes of childhood cancers are not yet well-known or understood.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Help cover yourself and your family with affordable coverage from Aflac.
There are a few notable distinctions between childhood and adult cancers. Childhood cancers may occur in different parts of the body compared to adults.2 Even when they start in the same part, they may behave differently.3 They appear different under a microscope and may even respond differently to treatment.
Additionally, children tend to develop different cancers from the types usually found in adults. While many adult cancers are caused by lifestyle or environmental factors, the same doesn't hold true for childhood cancers.
Children are more likely to receive successful treatment for cancer. In fact, advances in medicine mean that in recent years, 85% of children with cancer survive 5 years or more.4 Children may get more intense cancer treatment, and they don't usually have health problems that get worse with treatment.5
Common childhood cancers differ from common adult cancers. Lung and colorectal cancers are more common in adults, along with prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.6 Here are some common types of childhood cancers:7
Leukemias, especially acute lymphocytic leukemia (also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia) (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), are the most common childhood cancers. They affect the bone marrow and blood and may cause symptoms like bone and joint pain, weakness, and fatigue.
Brain and spinal cord tumors exist in many forms. The treatments and outlook for each can vary. Brain tumors in children may cause headaches, nausea, and vision problems, along with other symptoms. Spinal cord tumors are less common but may cause numbness, weakness, and lack of coordination in the arms and legs. It's important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other abnormalities, and don't necessarily mean your child has a brain or spinal cord tumor.
Lymphomas often start in the lymph nodes, tonsils, or thymus. They may affect the bone marrow and other organs over time. Swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and sweats are among the symptoms. Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the main types.
Neuroblastoma is usually observed in infants and young children as it starts in the nerve cells found in developing embryos or fetuses. It starts as a swelling in the abdomen and can cause bone pain, fever, and other symptoms.
Kidney tumors, sometimes known as Wilms tumors or nephroblastoma, can show up on one or both kidneys. It may be accompanied by symptoms like loss of appetite, fever, and nausea.
There have been significant advances in medical science and healthcare, allowing for successful treatment and cure of many forms of childhood cancer. Additionally, cure rates have dramatically improved over the past few decades.
Treatment options for childhood cancer are largely dependent on the type and stage of the disease. A multidisciplinary team of medical professionals often tailors the treatment plan to the individual needs of the child, considering factors like the child's age, overall health, and the anticipated side effects of the treatment. It's also notable that research is ongoing to develop more effective treatments for each type of childhood cancer.
Childhood cancers are rare, and many patients make a full recovery thanks to advances in cancer medicine. Even so, understanding this disease, its symptoms, and treatments can be helpful.
Cancer insurance can help provide parents and families with financial support in case of a childhood cancer diagnosis. Aflac offers cancer insurance that goes beyond covering medical expenses. We also provide cash benefits that can help you deal with day-to-day expenses, bills, mortgage payments, and more. The right supplemental cancer insurance policy can help lift a financial burden, so cancer-affected families can focus on treatment and recovery. Speak with an agent today to learn more about your options.
Explore your cancer insurance options.
1 National Cancer Institute - Cancer in Children and Adolescents. Updated November 4, 2021. https://www.cancer.gov/types/childhood-cancers/child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet#r1. Accessed August 7, 2023.
2 Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group – Childhood Cancer. https://www.cclg.org.uk/childhood-cancer. Accessed August 7, 2023.
3 Cancer.net - Childhood Cancer: Introduction. Updated January 2022. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/childhood-cancer/introduction. Accessed August 7, 2023.
4 American Cancer Society - Key Statistics for Childhood Cancers. Updated January 12, 2023. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/cancer-in-children/key-statistics.html. Accessed August 7, 2023.
5 American Cancer Society - What Are the Differences Between Cancers in Adults and Children? Updated October 14, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/cancer-in-children/differences-adults-children.html. Accessed August 7, 2023.
6 National Cancer Institute – Cancer Statistics. Updated September 25, 2020. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics. Accessed August 7, 2023.
7 American Cancer Society - Types of Cancer that Develop in Children. Updated October 14, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/cancer-in-children/types-of-childhood-cancers.html. Accessed August 7, 2023.
Aflac Cancer Insurance - Series B70000 - In Delaware, Policies B70100DE, B70200DE & B70300DE. In Idaho, Policies B70100ID, B70200ID, B70300ID, B7010EPID, B7020EPID. In Oklahoma, Policies B70100OK, B70200OK, B70300OK, B7010EPOK, B7020EPOK. Series A78000 - In New York, Policies, NY78100–NY78400. Series A75000 - In Virginia, policies A75100VA–A75300VA.
Tier One Insurance Company Cancer insurance - In Delaware, Policy T70000. In Idaho, Policy T70000ID. In Oklahoma, Policy T70000OK. In Virginia, policies T70000VA & T70000GVA.
Cancer insurance is also known as specified disease insurance in some states. This is a brief product overview only. Coverage may not be available in all states. Benefits/premium rates may vary based on plan selected. Optional riders may be available at an additional cost. Plans and riders may also contain a waiting period. Refer to the exact plans and riders for benefit details, definitions, limitations and exclusions. For availability and costs, please contact your local Aflac agent/producer.
Aflac Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
Tier One Coverage is underwritten by Tier One Insurance Company.
Aflac’s family of insurers include Aflac, Aflac New York, Continental American Insurance Company, and Tier One Insurance Company.
Aflac | WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999