Do you know the deadly disease of cancer can affect even babies? Although cancer in babies is rare, it is one of the leading causes of disease-related death in United States of America. However, the actual cause of pediatric cancer is not well-understood. The good news is that the survival rates of some forms of cancer in babies have significantly increased. At the same time, for some other forms, the survival rate remains low. (1)
What Is Cancer?
Cancer refers to a collection of related diseases.Ideally,it is an uncontrolled state of the cells to multiply rapidly and soon spread to surrounding tissues resulting in tumors.(2)
Causes Of Cancer in Babies :
You should have come across this recent news. Baby food firms have been instructed by the Britain’s food standards to change the seals on their jars. The move has come due to the fear of contamination of a cancer-causing toxin, semicarbazide, in the seals of glass jars and bottles containing many baby foods.(3)
Similarly, many usually neglected reasons, like those given below, can become cancer-causing agents for your baby.
- Different exposure to environmental hazards can cause children to be affected by toxins. However, if it is environmental or lifestyle factors that cause cancer in older babies. It is usually DNA changes in the cells that affect the infants.
- The underdeveloped physiological systems in the children’s body to fight these toxins make them ideal candidates. The “developmental windows”, or the major phases of growth and development in children can thus also be “critical windows of vulnerability.
The type of cancers in babies differ from those that affect adults. Still the signs of cancer in babies are more or less the same.
- Sudden and drastic weight loss
- Bleeding Drowsiness or turning pale
- Lower levels of immunity
- Vomiting in the early morning
- Lump in the neck, abdomen, pelvis, chest or armpit.
[ Read: Congenital Heart Disease In Babies ]
Diagnosis Of Symptoms:
The incidence of infant cancer is diagnosed through number of tests like the ones in discussion. A baby with cancer should undergo these tests.
- Biopsy – A sample of tissue from the body is examined to detect the presence of tumor.
- Blood test – The count of the blood cells can be determined to check abnormality.
- Ultrasound scan – Gives a better picture of the internal body.
- X- ray scan – Helps find any abnormal development within the body.
- Lumber puncture – A sample from around the spinal cord undergoes examination.
In some cases, other tests like CT scan, MRI scan, and PET scan are also conducted depending on their age and other medical concerns.
Sometimes,symptoms of cancer in babies can be detected even before their birth through ultrasound scans. However, it is difficult to diagnose cancer in babies after birth, as their irritability and restlessness owing to illness are neglected.
[ Read: Signs Of Lead Poisoning In Babies ]
Different Types Of Pediatric Cancer:
Neuroblastoma is the most prominent form of cancer in the first year of life for babies. With a survival rate of less than half of the infected, studies are in plenty to find an effective solution to cure the disease completely.Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that affects the immature nerve cells of the developing nervous system. The tumor mostly develops around the spine, abdomen or the adrenal gland. The major symptoms include an enlarged kidney, high blood pressure, inability to walk, diarrhea and body pain.
[ Read: Causes of High Blood Pressure In Babies ]
2. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL):
One of the most common forms of cancer in children, around 34% of all childhood cancers are ALL. A more common tumor in boys between two and four years, this Leukemia takes its origin in bone marrow. It is then spread to the blood, followed by other organs. Few of the major symptoms of this cancer are severe pain in the joints and bones, fatigue, bleeding and fever.