Child & Adult differences

From the 'American Cancer Society'

The differences between cancers in children and adults

The types of cancers that develop in children are different from the types that develop in adults. Childhood cancers are often the result of DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life, sometimes even before birth. Unlike many cancers in adults, childhood cancers are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors.  

There are exceptions, but childhood cancers tend to respond better to treatments such as chemotherapy. Children's bodies also tend to tolerate chemotherapy better than adults' bodies do. But cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can have some long-term side effects, so children who survive cancer need careful attention for the rest of their lives.

Since the 1960s, most children and teens with cancer have been treated at specialized centers designed for them. Being treated in these centers offers them the advantage of a team of specialists who know the differences between adult and childhood cancers, as well as the unique needs of children with cancers. This team usually includes pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, pediatric oncology nurses, and nurse practitioners.

These centers also have psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, nutritionists, rehabilitation and physical therapists, and educators who can support and educate the entire family.

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