preventing pediatric cancer

A Guide to Preventing Pediatric Cancer

How to prevent your child from getting cancer

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the key reasons that cause kids and adolescents to die globally. The number of child cancer deaths per year worldwide is over 100,000.  

Here we have put together a practical guide to important points you need to be mindful of when it comes to preventing cancer in your child. 

What causes pediatric cancer? 

There is no known cause for pediatric cancers although researchers have tried to determine what actually causes cancer in children, lifestyle or environmental factors are the reasons for a very small number of cancers in children. Some chronic infections contribute to the occurrence of pediatric cancer. They usually happen in countries with poor medical facilities. Medical conditions such as Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and malaria raise the likelihood of some cancers in children. Therefore, getting vaccinated is important, so is early diagnosis or screening to reduce chronic infections that result in childhood cancer. 

The WHO concludes that genetic changes are the cause of childhood cancer in only one tenth of all kids, meaning that continuing research is necessary to determine the real factors that contribute to pediatric cancer.    

Cancer in children: symptoms 

After being aware of the childhood cancer statistics above, you might wonder what is a child cancer like? Here is a list of signs and symptoms that if your child has, you should bring him or her to a doctor in order for the real cause to get found and treated before it is too late.  

• An ongoing pain in one area of the body 

• An unusual lump or swelling 

• Easy bruising or bleeding 

• Frequent headaches, often with vomiting 

• Limping 

• Sudden eye or vision changes 

• Sudden unexplained weight loss 

• Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away 

• Unexplained paleness and loss of energy 

Other symptoms are also possible, depending on the type of cancer. 

Types of childhood cancer  

The most common types of cancer that develop in children include:  

• Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma) 

• Brain and spinal cord tumors 

• Leukemia 

• Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin) 

• Neuroblastoma 

• Retinoblastoma 

• Rhabdomyosarcoma 

• Wilms tumor 

Other types of cancer are not occurring very often.  

Can cancer spread to unborn children? 

According to the department of pediatrics at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, cancer can spread from mother to unborn children but this does happen in very rare cases because the placenta acts as a barrier to cells from the mother, and the fetal immune system would typically reject and destroy cancer cells. 

Is child cancer rare? 

So how common is pediatric cancer? Childhood cancer is rare. It is unlikely that your child will develop cancer. Still, as a parent, you need to be aware of the symptoms of childhood cancer listed above and work with your doctor as a team to keep your child healthy. 

preventing pediatric cancer

How to prevent your child from getting cancer 

As a parent, although you cannot change the genes of your children that they inherit from you and that impact their odds of cancer, you can always change the environment and lifestyle that directly affect the risk of your child in getting cancer. So here are some practical tips you can implement: 

1. Quit smoking yourself  

And allow no one else to smoke around your child. It might not be easy to do but it really helps to a great extent with making them stay away from all those kinds of scary cancer in lung, some leukemias, voice box, throat, liver, kidney. Don’t ever underestimate the negative impact of second-hand smoke. 

2. Limit or even stop consuming alcohol 

Quit consuming alcohol or don’t just drink it in front of your kids because alcohol increases the amount of cancer causing chemicals in your child’s body, and affects hormone levels. It also amplifies the toxic effects of tobacco. You need to set a good example for your children as it is good for your own health and that of your kids. Little to no alcohol consumption will lessen your child’s risk of breast, mouth, throat and bowel cancer. 

3. Don’t let them get exposed to too much sunlight  

Protect your child from getting sunburns.  Your child needs at least SPF15 sunblock and reapply through the day. Seek shade during peak hours. Stick a hat on their head that shades their face, and a pair of sunglasses on their nose. 

4.  Avoid certain kinds of infections 

Teach your child to behave and not to get tattoos on their skin, not to have random sex and not take any illegal drugs because these things are linked to infections and certain types of cancer like skin cancer, cervical cancer or oral cancer. Also get them HPV vaccine as a prevention to relevant types of cancer. 

5. Feed them healthy food  

Provide your child with meals that contain fruits, vegetables and fibers. Avoid preparing dishes with abundant red meat and salt. Unhealthy food and drinks will increase their odds of getting breast, mouth, esophagus and gastrointestinal cancers. 

6. Have them maintain a healthy body weight 

Fatty tissue produces hormones that influence the way cells grow. Cell overgrowth is at the root of cancers. Obesity has been connected to breast cancer, esophageal and bowel cancers, and liver, kidney, pancreas and uterine cancers. 

7. Urge them to do physical exercise 

Physical exercise keeps your child’s levels of hormone like insulin and estrogen in more balance. This will then decrease their risk of getting breast, uterine and bowel cancer. 

Takeaway

On the whole, when it comes to things you can do to prevent your child from developing cancer, visiting your doctor on an annual basis for a medical check-up is only one piece of the entire jigsaw puzzle. Such transformations in your lifestyle and the lifestyle of your child may not always be easy to put into practice, but it can be inspiring to understand that what you and your child can do each day greatly contributes to reducing your child’s risk of getting cancer. 

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