Cancer Can Mask as Typical Childhood Illnesses, Injuries

September 2, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and it aims to shine a light on pediatric cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for American children under 15. Childhood cancers make up less than one percent of all cancers diagnosed each year. About 10,450 children in the United States under age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014, a rate that's been rising slightly for the past few decades.

The types of cancers children develop are different from the types in adults. Childhood cancers often are the result of DNA changes in cells that take place early in life, sometimes even before birth. Because of major treatment advances in recent decades, more than 80 percent of children with cancer now may survive five years or more.

Some of the most common types of pediatric cancer include leukemia, brain and other central nervous system tumors, neuroblastoma, lymphoma (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin), retinoblastoma and bone cancer.

Because the symptoms of many of these diseases can be similar to those of common childhood illnesses or injuries, cancers in children may be hard to recognize. Children often get sick or have bumps or bruises that could hide the early signs of cancer. Make sure your children have regular medical checkups, and check with your doctor about any unusual signs or symptoms that don’t go away.

Possible pediatric cancer symptoms

  • Unusual lumps or swelling
  • Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
  • Easy bruising
  • An ongoing pain in one area of the body
  • Limping
  • Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
  • Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
  • Sudden eye or vision changes
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss

BBG team members are proud to have worked with many children, like Noah and Aida, who are in the fight of their young lives.

Noah Sanchez

Noah was diagnosed at the age of 4 with leukemia. In his battle with the disease, Noah has received platelets and red blood cells. He received a cord blood transplant in August, and his family is hopeful the treatment will help him into remission. When women decide to donate the cord blood of their newborns, they’re helping families like Noah’s keep hope alive.

Aida Cordeau

Aida was diagnosed late in 2013 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The 6-year-old, who loves dancing and playing with dolls, underwent blood transfusions and chemotherapy. Her mom says she’s currently doing well on her treatment plan and looking forward to first grade. Aida also has been honored this year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual Light the Night event. Each year, Light the Night selects an individual from each local chapter to serve as an Honored Hero, and Aida has been selected for San Antonio. 

How can you help? Consider getting involved and/or making a financial gift.