Children cancer diseases

 1.      Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood, characterized by an uncontrolled overproduction of immature white blood cells, called lymphoblast. These cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells – leucocytes, erythrocytes, trombocytes, what defines the ALL basic symptoms.

It is an acute type of leukemia. Without the due treatment it can spread throughout the body, what can be fatal within just a few months.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is the most common type of childhood leukemia with 75-80% of the blood cancer cases (3-4 for 100 thousand children per year), and the most common childhood cancer.

ALL can occur at any age but is more common in children (0 -14 years) with a peak incidence at 2-5 years of age. It is more common in males rather than in females.

The modern methods of ALL treatment give very good results and really high survival rate of 80% (some sources quote 85%).

 2.      Lymphogranulomatosis (Hodgkin’s lymphoma)

Lymphogranulomatosis is a cancer of the lymphatic system, when the malignant Reed-Sternberg cells (RS cells) are found in the lymphoid tissue. The cells were called after the scientists, who took an active part in its discovering and study.

Lymphogranulomatosis can occur at any age but it is basically common in adolescents and young adults.

This disease was first described in an 1832 report by the British scientist Thomas Hodgkin, and it is also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The most common symptom of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the enlargement of lymph nodes usually in the neck (60-75% of cases), under the arms or in the groin. In distinction from infectious diseases, the swelling is painless, and the size of the lymph nodes does not decrease after the antibiotic treatment.

The modern methods of HL treatment are based on the concept of its full cure. The prognosis is most favorable at stages I and II, but even at stages III and IV the survival rates are very high.

Statistically up to 95% of patients diagnosed with the early stages Hodgkin’s lymphoma (I, II) have strong chances of full recovery. In case of further stages (III, IV) – the cure rate is of 75%.

3.    Lymphoma (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma)

Lymphoma is a group of blood cell tumors that develop from lymphocytes. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma makes up about 90% of cases and includes a large number of sub-types.

Treatment may involve some combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and surgery. The incidence of NHL increases with age.

There are many forms of lymphoma are categorized as indolent, compatible with a long life even without treatment, whereas other forms are aggressive (e.g. Burkett’s lymphoma), causing rapid deterioration and death. However, most of the aggressive lymphomas respond well to the adequate treatment and are admitted curable. The prognosis therefore depends on the correct diagnosis and classification of the disease.

 4.      Nephroblastoma (Wilms Tumor)

Nephroblastoma is a cancer of the kidneys that typically occurs in children, rarely in adults. It belongs to embryonic tumors, being a mass of cancer cells that grow in kidney tissue.

Most nephroblastomas are unilateral, being bilateral in less than 5% of cases.

It is named after Dr. Max Wilms, the German surgeon, who first described it in 1899.

Nephroblastoma is most common cancer of genitourinary system – about 6% of all cancers in children. At the time of diagnosis, most Wilms tumor patients are less than five years old. Rarely Wilms tumor could be found in newborns.

In Russia nephroblastoma comes fourth in the structure of childhood cancer, after a cancer of the blood and lymphatic system (40%), a cancer of central nervous system (15%) and soft tissue sarcoma (8%).

Nephroblastoma usually has no symptoms at early stages, and being painless it may become very large without interfering with a child’s health. Nevertheless it can often be diagnosed before the metastases stage. About 60% of patients are diagnosed with Wilms Tumor at stages I and II, what gives a favorable prognosis even in case of anaplastic nephroblastoma. It is highly responsive to treatment, with about 90% of patients surviving.

5. Aplastic anemia

Aplastic anemia (AA) is a deadly disease in which the bone marrow, and the blood stem cells that reside there, are damaged. This causes a deficiency of all three blood cell types (pancytopenia): red blood cells (anemia), white blood cells (leucopenia), and platelets (thrombocytopenia). Aplastic refers to inability of the stem to generate the mature blood cells.

It is most prevalent in people in their twenties and can be caused by exposure to chemical, drugs, radiation, immune disease, but in about half the cases that cause is unknown – in this case it is called idiopathic aplastic anemia. The definitive diagnosis is by bone marrow biopsy; normal bone marrow has 30-70% blood stem cells, but in aplastic anemia, these cells are mostly gone and replaced by fat.

It is a rather rare disease (5 cases per 1million of people annually). Untreated severe aplastic anemia leads to rapid death within a pair of months. But generally, the modern methods of treatment allow doctors give good prognosis.