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Young People with Cancer: A Handbook for Parents

  • Posted: 07/31/2003

Types of Childhood Cancer

Leukemias
Lymphomas
Bone Cancers
Liver Cancers
Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Other Cancers

Leukemias

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
All LeukemiasLeukemia is cancer of the blood cells. In acute leukemia, the disease comes on suddenly and gets worse quickly if it is not treated. Most childhood leukemias are acute. Chronic leukemia is usually milder at the start and gets worse more slowly.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)Also known as "childhood leukemia" because it is the most common childhood cancer.Usually occurs between 2 and 8 years old.
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)Also called acute nonlymphatic leukemia.Usually occurs in people over age 25, but sometimes affects teenagers and children.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)CML is a slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Also called chronic myeloid leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia.Sometimes occurs in adolescents but almost never affects children. Most commonly affects adults.
Five percent of childhood leukemias are CML.

Lymphomas

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
All LymphomasLymphoma is a tumor of the lymph tissue. Because lymph tissue is in many parts of the body, lymphomas can start almost anywhere.
Hodgkin's diseaseHodgkin's disease is a cancer that tends to affect the lymph nodes that are close to the body's surface, such as those in the neck, armpit, or groin area.Occurs mainly in young adults and in people over age 65 but can affect teenagers and children. Lymphomas are the third most common childhood cancer. Rare under age 5.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphomaIn children, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma affects lymph nodes that are found deeper in the body. The bowel is the most frequent spot, often in the area next to the appendix, or in the upper part of the chest.Occurs most often in ages 10 to 20. Unusual under age 3.
Burkitt's lymphomaA type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In Americans, the usual site is the abdomen.Age range is 2-16 years

Bone Cancers

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
Osteosarcoma or osteogenic sarcomaOsteosarcoma is the sixth most common malignancy in children and the most common type of bone cancer in children. Usually affects the thigh bone (femur), upper arm bone (humerus), or one of the long bones of the lower leg (tibia).Occurs between ages 10 and 25.
Ewing's sarcomaThe most common sites for Ewing's sarcoma are the hipbones, long bones in the thigh (femur) and upper arm (humerus), and ribs.Occurs between ages 10 and 25.
ChondrosarcomaChondrosarcoma forms in cartilage, the rubbery tissue around the joints.Found mainly in adults, although it can occur in children.

Liver Cancers

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
All liver cancersAlso called hepatoma, liver cancer is a rare disease. When the tumor is just in the liver and can be removed with surgery, it is highly curable. Two types of cancer can start in the liver and are identified by how they look under the microscope.
HepatoblastomaHepatoblastoma can be inherited.Usually occurs before age 3.
Hepatocellular cancerChildren infected with hepatitis B or C (viral infections of the liver) are more likely to get this type of cancer.Occurs most often in children age 4 or younger and those between ages 12 and 15.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
All soft tissue sarcomasThese sarcomas start in soft tissues, which connect, support, and surround body parts and organs.
RhabdomyosarcomaRhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma. It starts in muscle tissue and can occur anywhere in body. It is most often found in the head and neck, kidneys, bladder, arms, legs, and trunk.Affects children ages 2 to 6 years old.

Other Cancers

 
TypeDescriptionAge
 
Brain cancerBrain cancer is the most common solid tumor cancer in childhood. The most common brain tumors are called gliomas; there are several types of gliomas.Occurs most often in children from birth to 15 years old.
Wilm's tumor or nephroblastomaThis type of cancer starts in the kidney. It is the most common type of kidney cancer in children but is very different from kidney cancer in adults. May be hereditary.Age range 6 months to 10 years - greatest in first 5 years.
NeuroblastomaCancer of certain nerve cells of the body is called neuroblastoma. The second most common solid tumor cancer in children, it usually starts in abdomen, either in the adrenal glands (located just above kidneys in back of the upper abdomen) or around the spine. It can also start around the spinal cord in the chest, neck, or pelvis.Occurs most often in babies and very young children.
RetinoblastomaRetinoblastoma is cancer of the eye. It affects the retina, a thin membrane in the back of eye that works like a camera, making a picture of what we see. Some children have retinoblastoma that runs in families. It usually occurs in only one eye, but sometimes affects both eyes.Occurs mostly in children younger than 5 years old.