Cancer caused by a fault (or mutation) happening in one of the cells of the body. These cells then grow out of control and then spread. This is cancer.
The cells are so aggressive that the body cannot stop them spreading.
Cancer in adults
In adults, lifestyle-related factors can increase the risk of an individual developing cancer over a number of years. For example smoking, drinking alcohol and being overweight all increase the risk of cancer, but it takes many years.
Cancer in children
In children however, lifestyle factors play very little role. By definition, children have not lived long enough for most lifestyle factors to take effect. Childhood cancer is not the fault of the parents or the child, and this needs to be remembered. Childhood cancer is not due to poor diet, being overweight or the actions of the mother when pregnant.
Often, they are the result of DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life, sometimes even before a child is born. Some cases may be caused by inherited genes from a child’s parents, but this is not common.
Childhood cancer and other medical conditions
Some children that are born with genetic or other medical conditions may be at increased risk of cancer.
An example of this are children born with Downs syndrome. They are born at increased risk of developing certain forms of cancer including leukaemia.
However most children with cancer we simply do not know the cause, and often it may well be due to chance.
We do not know why children are affected, and this is why so much more research needs to be done, but one thing is for sure is that the children and their parents are not at fault.
What can we do to Help?
We need to be aware of the signs and symptoms that children may present with. Early diagnosis can save their lives. Have a look at the symptom card below, and please share if you can.
If you are able to help us distribute these cards or help in any way, please drop us a message or email [email protected].