Childhood Cancer

October 27, 2013

I will be spending my next week researching childhood cancer. Childhood cancer is something that has effected some of my close friends and teammates. Childhood cancer is broad term for any type of cancer that at a child (newborn – 18) is affected by. Cancer is something that effects more than 13,500 children year. The PICU will see a large number of these children because they need so much attention and care. I will be looking at different treatments for cancer in children, what types of cancer are most seen in children, what advancements are being made to cure cancer, and more.




October 29, 2013

Some may know that there are several types of cancer, to be more specific about 200. Each cancer is capable of the unthinkable.

If you have ever seen someone with cancer you only see the physical toll it takes on someone. In my case I have two great friend that have/had cancer. I have seen them in some of their weaker times, but I will never understand what they are going through and went through. Doctors specialize in cancer to try and understand how it works and to help fight the battle against cancer.

In the case of children there are 4 main types of cancer that affect children the most, they are Leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, and osteosarcoma (bone cancer). This doesn’t mean that kids aren’t able to get other kinds of cancer.




October 30, 2013

Leukemia is cancer of the blood. In most cases it will start in the bone marrow (which is where blood cells are made). If you have leukemia your body will start to make abnormal white blood cells. They will multiply rapidly and wont stop like they should. In children, the most common leukemia is acute lymphoblastic leukemia, shortened to ALL. Childhood leukemias also include acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). Leukemia is categorized my how fast if is developing and what parts of the blood it is affecting. No one knows what makes our body do this.

Treatment has developed into something quite amazing. Doctors are able to mix different chemotherapy drugs and treatments to best treat each case. Most of the treatment is based on what kind of leukemia you have. Acute leukemia, for the most part, is treatable and has a greater chance of going into remission. Chronic leukemia is a whole different beast when it comes to treatment. Doctors are able to help treat the disease but the chance of going into remission is slim. The different types of treatment are chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, and biological therapy. (I will get more into treatment in a post later on)

One of the most amazing thing about children is the fight they put up. Their bodies are able to respond better and heal themselves better than adults. I think That is just amazing, and one of the key reasons I want to go into pediatrics.

If you would like more information about childhood leukemia her is a wonderful site full of information.




October 31, 2013

I guess I should back track a little bit and talk about what cancer is, some of its history, and advancements made to fight cancer. I will be breaking this up into three different post.

Cancer is any uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body or abnormal cell growth. To have a understanding on cancer basic biology is required. You need to have an understanding of the cell to try and understand why the cell divides in this type of manner. Lucky for me I have taken biology and an currently in AP biology, so my understanding of cells and their functions is pretty good. So here is my dummy version of cells and how they turn it to cancer. Cells are the base of all life form. You body is made up of tens and thousands of cells. Each cell has a job to help us function. Over time cells will grow and divide to create new cells. For us to be able to live we need cells to grow and divid quite frequently. Cells divide and reproduce in a orderly cycle, called the cell cycle. It is believed that cancer occurs when cells mutate or have a malfunction in the cell cycle. These cells will have a change DNA from the rest of your body. The cell will not know when to die, when to stop dividing, and it can’t preform other functions of normal cells. These cells can create a mass of tissue called a tumor or move through the blood stream.

There are two types of cell growth, benign or malignant. Benign cells will form a mass or tumor in the body. Most people don’t consider this as cancer. This is because the cells start out as tumors, this means that the cells have a slim to none chance of spreading anywhere else in the body. For the most part the mass or tumor is easy to remove or treat and most likely won’t come back. Malignant cells are cells that can and will invade nearby tissue and other parts of the body. This makes it harder to treat than benign cells.

Here is a great picture of cell growth vs. abnormal cell growth:


If you would like more information here are some great websites and pdf’s: 




November 1, 2013

Alright so the last two days I have been researching the history of cancer and advancements in treatments. And here is what I have found:

Cancer has been around as long as humans have. Doctors and archaeologist have found traces of cancer cells in mummies found in Egypt and other found fossils. We have even found old writings from the Egyptian papyrus describing cancer, even though it was not call cancer back them. These writings said it had not treatment but tried to remove them surgically.

The word cancer comes form the greek physician Hippocrates, who is know as the father of medicine. The greek words that Hippocrates used were carcinos and carcinoma. These terms mean “crab”, it was most likely used because of the way the cancer cells spread. It was not until Celsus, a later Roman physician, that the actual word cancer was used. Another word created by a Roman physician, Galen, was oncos. Oncos is greek for “swelling”. Galen used it to describe the growth of cancer.

It was not until 1761 when Giovanni Morgagni of Padua did autopsies to relate the patient’s illness to pathologic findings after death. This laid the foundation for scientific oncology, the study of cancer.

In the his life time John Hunter (1728−1793) , famous surgeon, suggested that some cancers might be cured by surgery and described how the surgeon might decide which cancers to operate on. If the tumor had not invaded nearby tissue it was considered moveable.

It was not until the 19th century that modern medicine and the development of oncology came around. Up until this time doctors created theories as to why cancer developed and how it was spread. We now know that cancer is formed when there is a mutation in cell reproduction. This is what has lead us to todays treatment and findings of cancer.


Today we know that there are viral and chemical carcinogens that can cause cancer. chemical carcinogens include benzene, asbestos, hydrocarbons in the air, and arsenic in drinking water.  There have also been links to viruses such as HIV, HPV, and hepatitis B or C. High amounts of radiation can also cause the formation of cancer cells. These are just a few examples, there are over 100 known carcinogens that can cause cancer. I am not saying that if you come in contact with any one of these you will get cancer. It has just been found that there are links to some of these things and cancer. But you could also never come in contact with a carcinogen, which is highly unlikely, and still get cancer. That is because some cancers are passed down genetically. Today scientist are trying to pinpoint the genetic hick-up in DNA that causes cancer.




November 2, 2013

If you would ever like more information on cancer here is a really helpful site!



November 3, 2013

There are several ways in which doctors can ‘treat’ cancer. Depending on the type of cancer and if a tumor is present doctors may chose from surgery, hormone therapy, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. None of these will cure the cancer but are the best way to treat and control it. I am currently doing research on each of these treatments and will be posting them this week.




November 11, 2013

Surgery is something that almost every cancer patient will have to go through. It is on of the best ways to prevent or help stop the spread of cancer. Doctors are able to use modern technology, like MRI, CT scan, X-Ray, and bone scans that doctors can use to help locate tumors to safely remove them.

Chemotherapy is probably the most common way of treating cancer. If a child has cancer they will go see a Oncologist, who will help decide how to treat the cancer. An Oncologist is able to use different drugs and medicines know as chemotherapy. Each patient is different, so the chemo and different drugs use are specific to each and every case. Chemotherapy is given through an IV, shots, or even by a pill, but the most common is through an IV. Some patients will get what is called a port. Both of my friends have/had a port so doctors had better access to the veins. A port is placed surgically to help patients not be constantly poked by IVs. Chemotherapy will attack the cancer cells, but also healthy cells. The body will have a harder time producing new cells during treatment. This is why patient will loss their hair. Chemotherapy can be used for many reasons, each different for each case.




November 14, 2013

Alrighty, there are eight other ways in which you can treat cancer. There is radiation, target therapy, immunotherapy, hyperthermia, stem cell transplant, photodynamic therapy, lasers,  and transfusions. Some of these treatments are more common than others.

Most people have heard of radiation as a treatment for cancer. Radiation is one of the more common ways cancer patients are treated. Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells.  There is internal and external radiology that can be used. External radiation has been compared to having an x-ray. The treatment its self is painless and only takes a few minutes. A doctor will ask you to lie on your back under the radiation machine. Most of the time the radiation therapist will lay lead blankets over the rest of your body to block the radiation. Here is what a radiation machine may look like.


Internal radiation therapy is when a doctor will go in surgically and place an implant that will give off radiation. They are small needle like tubes that are placed near the target area. Depending on the type of cancer, a doctor will decide how long to leave in the implant. Sometimes it is only for a few hours other times it could be weeks. During this time a cancer patient may not be able to be around children or pregnant woman. Here is a visual to help you better understand:


Target Therapy is another type of treatment. Target therapy was created as advancements in chemotherapy were made. Doctors and researchers have been able to learn more about the drugs used in chemotherapy and understand the effects different drugs have on different types of cancer. Target therapy allows doctors to use specific drugs for different cancers and modify them for each patient. This is more of an extension on chemotherapy than anything else.

Immunotherapy is also known as biotherapy or biological therapy. There are two ways in which doctors can use immunotherapy, they are: stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells or giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins. If you know a little about the different types of cancer, you know that some cancers effect the immune system more than others. This is because of where the cancer started and in what kind of cell it started in (AP Biology is paying off right about now). This is a treatment that is used along side other treatments, like radiology or chemotherapy. As we learn more about about the immune system this treatment will advance.

Hyperthermia is when the the body is a higher temperature than normal. This not to be confused with hypothermia which is a medical condition in which the body is a a lower temperature than normal. The difference between the two is HYPO and HYPER, both are latin and are basic words used in science. Hyperthermia is when a doctor, who specializes in this, controls heat to destroy cancer cells. The problem with this type of treatment is that it can also damage healthy cells, but most cancer treatments do. Again there are two main ways in which a doctor can use this kind of treatment, they are: very high temperatures can be used to destroy a small area of cells, such as a tumor. This is often called local hyperthermia or thermal ablation, or the temperature of a part of the body (or even the whole body) can be raised a few degrees higher than normal. It helps other cancer treatments such as radiation, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy work better. This is called regional hyperthermia or whole-body hyperthermia.




November 20, 2013

okay so I am going to move on from childhood cancer. This is a topic that i could spend a whole semester learning about, and there is not much else i can talk about without letting it take over the rest of my semester.

So like i said, I have started to follow a pediatrician so next I will be talking about the day in which a pediatrician might have. I will also be talking about what happens in a normal check-up ect.

Because of the HIPAA law I am not allowed to discuss anything that I see while following. So I will be posting about things that I find interesting in pediatrics or that my pediatrician suggest that I study. There are several things in which I am already researching. I have no clue where this will take me in my independent study! But it will be fun, i am enjoying this a lot and plan on continuing my research even after the semester is over.



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