What is Childhood Cancer?

Common Types of Childhood Cancer

There are more than 100 different types of childhood cancers that can happen in different parts of the body. The most common type in Singapore is Leukaemia.


Leukaemia

Is the cancer of the blood where white blood cells grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs via the bloodstream. These white blood cells crowd out and slow down the production of healthy blood cells.

Symptoms

  • Paleness
  • Lethargy
  • Prolonged recurrent fevers
  • Easy bruising
  • Poor concentration
  • Weight loss
  • Bone aches/ pain

Brain Tumour

Is the most common solid tumour in children and can develop in any part of the brain. As the brain tumour grows, it affects the function of the area and its surroundings.

Symptoms

  • Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden change in handwriting
  • Fits or seizures
  • Loss of balance and trouble walking
  • Vision, hearing and speech problems
  • Changes in behaviour or school performance
  • Poor appetite, weight loss

Lymphoma

Is a cancer that grows in certain cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. There are two main types of Lymphoma: Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's, the latter being more common in children.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal mass leading to nausea, vomiting and pain
  • Chest mass causing breathing problems
  • Lethargy
  • Jaw swelling, which may or may not be painless
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss

 

Different Modes of Treatment
Surgery

Is a standard surgical treatment that doctors use to remove tumour.

Chemotherapy

Are anti-cancer drugs given by mouth or administered directly into the bloodstream to kill cancer cells.

Radiotherapy

Is the use of extremely high dose of X-ray to kill cancer cells.

Stem Cell (Blood or Marrow) and Cord Blood Transplant

Stem cell transplantation is a method of giving high doses of chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy to wipe out the body’s blood cells including cancer cells. This is followed by replacing the blood-forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment.

Cord blood transplantation uses remains of blood from the umbilical cord which contains blood stem cells from a newly delivered baby for the treatment of high risk cancers and blood diseases.

 

Common Side Effects of Treatment
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Learning difficulties
  • Appetite loss and/or weight loss
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Possible hearing damage
  • Growth and dental problems