Health Hub: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Research and advancements in treatment provide hope for the future
More than 16,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with childhood cancer every year, most commonly with leukemia, brain cancer and bone cancer. “While undergoing treatment for pediatric cancer of all types can be extremely difficult for kids and families, ongoing research is improving cure rates of childhood cancer and more children are surviving their disease,” says Dr. Fouad Hajjar, MD, a board-certified pediatric hematologist and oncologist in Orlando.
Signs of childhood cancer
Dr. Hajjar emphasizes that childhood cancers are rare diseases. “If your child has any of the symptoms associated with cancer, the likelihood is that they do not have cancer, but something else. Do not panic unnecessarily,” he says. “Always talk with your doctor about any concerns you might have.”
Symptoms vary depending on type of cancer. Leukemia can cause pain in bones and joints, weakness, fever and bleeding. Brain tumors may cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, seizures and difficulty walking.
Can Childhood Cancer Be Prevented?
Unlike many adult cancers, lifestyle-related risk factors (like smoking and drinking) don’t affect a child’s risk of getting cancer. In fact, the causes of most childhood cancers are not known. “If a child develops cancer,” says Dr. Hajjar, “parents should understand that it is highly unlikely there is anything they could have done to prevent it. However, there are certain measures you can take to help reduce the risk of cancer in your child later in life.”
• Avoid excessive sun exposure and use sunscreen daily.
• Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Keep children away from second-hand smoke.
• Reduce exposure to air pollution.
• Limit exposure to radiation (limit radiological testing when possible).
• Vaccinate against HPV (Human Papilloma vaccine) to prevent cancer developing later in women and men.
• Encourage behavior that may lower risk of cancer: healthy diet and healthy living, including exercise.
About Dr. Hajjar
To find out more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Hajjar, visit http://www.fhmedicalgroup.com or call (407) 988-2226.
About Florida Hospital
Florida Hospital Medical Group is the Orlando area’s most comprehensive multi-specialty medical group practice. With nearly 600 board-certified physicians, our group provides patients with a broad range of medical and surgical services across more than 40 medical specialties.