Key Differences Between Cancer in Children and Adults

father and daughterAlthough cancer affects all types of people, both young and old, its effects may vary considerably depending upon the age of the person with cancer. Because of this, pediatric cancer treatment plans differ from an adult treatment plans.

Keep this in mind when reading about cancer research and treatments. Your child’s pediatric oncology team can help you understand the specific issues and treatments for your child.

Childhood Cancer Is Biologically Different

Cancer often arises in adults due to environmental exposure to toxins. This can come from working with certain chemicals or from lifestyle choices such as smoking. In children, these considerations are rarely factors.

Rather than accumulating cancerous cell growths in tissues like the skin or lungs common to adult cancer, childhood cancers develop within the more fundamental cells such as the blood and bones.

Leukemia, a cancer of the blood, is the most common type of cancer in children. But it can also be more difficult to detect than adult cancer. The natural energy and resilience of children coupled with this can make detecting cancer a more difficult task than in adults.

Children Respond Differently to Pediatric Cancer Treatments

Although their bodies’ natural resilience can make early detection of cancer more difficult, this resiliency often aids children when undergoing pediatric cancer treatment. Small children can be affected more by radiation therapy than adults, but typically respond much better to chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is most often used to treat the types of cancers children suffer from. Because children tend to receive a diagnosis in later stages of cancer, beginning pediatric cancer treatment immediately is often a concern.

Children Are Supported by Pediatric Cancer Teams

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone, which is why childhood cancer patients are typically treated by a team of professionals that include doctors, nurses, counselors and others trained to help your family.