Common Types of Cancer in Children


Even though most cancers develop in adults, they can affect any part of the body and occur in people of all ages, including children. Here are the most common types of cancer in children.
According to a population-based study, approximately 400,000 children and young adults between the ages of 0 and 19 are diagnosed with cancer each year worldwide. Unlike adult cancers, most childhood cancers do not have any known causes. Many studies have aimed to identify the causes of childhood cancer and found that very few of these cancers are caused by lifestyle or environmental factors. In this blog, we will study the different types of cancer in children. We aim to increase awareness about these diseases so doctors can make advancements in treatment and increase the survival rate for suffering children.


Types of Cancer in Children

1. Leukemia

Leukemia is the cancer of the sponge-like tissue found in your bones known as the bone marrow. It is the most common childhood cancer. The cells that make up the marrow can develop into different blood cells, including white blood cells that protect the body from viruses and infections. This change in the proportion of blood cells inside the body causes children to develop symptoms of leukemia such as bruising, fever, anemia, and frequent bleeding.


There are two major leukemia types in children, known as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The primary difference between the two types is dependent on the types of cells in the marrow that become cancerous. Around 25% of childhood leukemias are AML. They can occur throughout childhood but are common in children aged 0 to 2 years. On the other hand, 75% of leukemia cases in children are of ALL, which is most common between the ages of 2 and 5.

2. Lymphoma

Lymphoma is the second most common cancer in children. It is a cancer of the immune system that affects the lymphoid tissues. Abnormal and immature white blood cells, known as lymphoma cells, are unable to fight infection. They end up crowding around the normal lymphoid tissue. As a result, the nodes or glands are not able to defend the body against viruses.

The two types of lymphomas include:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma (HL): It is a type of cancer that starts from lymphocytes, a particular type of white blood cells. It is more common in adolescents. It is usually characterized by and develops with gradual yet persistent symptoms such as fever, weight loss, and fatigue.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL): It is a type of cancer that generally originates in the lymph nodes or the lymphatic tissue found in the stomach, skin, and intestines. The symptoms usually emerge and advance more rapidly than HL.

3. Brain and Spinal Cancers

One of the most common types of cancer in children is the brain and spinal cancer. These are cancers of the central nervous system. They occur due to the abnormal growth of immature nerves and cells. These abnormal cells take up space in the brain or spinal cord and interrupt normal movement, behavior, thought, and sensation.

There are four main types of childhood and adolescent brain and spinal cancers that differ based on the types of cancer cells involved:

  • Astrocytoma: These arise from the supportive tissue of the brain or astrocytic glial cells.
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumors: these tumors arise from primitive nerve cells and are less common in adolescents than in children.
  • Brain-stem gliomas: These arise in the bunch of nerve tissue at the base of the brain, where critical tasks such as swallowing and breathing and heart rate are controlled.
  • Ependymomas: These usually arise in the lining of the four connected pockets within the brain known as the ventricles.

4. Neuroblastomas

Neuroblastomas are also types of childhood cancers. They start in early forms of nerve cells that are usually found in a developing embryo or fetus. Neuroblastomas account for 6% of cancers in children. They primarily develop in infants and young children and are rare in children above the age of 10. Neuroblastoma tumors can start anywhere, but they usually begin in the abdomen which can start to swell. They can also cause the patient to experience other symptoms such as fever and bone ache.


Final Words

A thorough evaluation of the different types of cancer in children is critical. This is because the different types are all treated differently. Adolescent and childhood cancers are usually treated by doctors specializing in pediatric cancers known as pediatric oncologists. Because of the availability of advanced testing to determine the specific cancer type and better treatment options, childhood and adolescent cancers are now more curable than ever.

Disclaimer: Please note: this blog post is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the guidance of your personal physician. Please consult a medical professional if you have any concerns after reading this or other blog posts on this website.