In the last couple of decades, much progress has been made in treating children with malignant cancer. With new treatment methods, 70% of cancer cases among children are successfully treated. The entire process is wrought with emotional and physical suffering. At Hadassah, our staff is aware of the difficulties and challenges you, your child and your family are facing and we work hard to provide an atmosphere conducive to your child’s needs and healing process.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which certain cells in the body multiply excessively without making space for new cells. Due to this process, a growth forms. In Israel, there are 2,250,000 children, and every year, 300-400 children are diagnosed with cancer. Most children are eventually cured, and recovery rates have been rising in recent years, thanks to new treatments that are available. Hadassah’s Department of Oncology is one of the leaders in the field of cancer among children. Having your child diagnosed with cancer is probably one of the hardest things you will experience as a parent, but there are a few things you should be aware of:
Cancer can be cured
There are different treatments available
Your child’s hair will grow back
Don’t waste your energy hiding the disease; it helps to share with friends, neighbors and teachers
There was nothing you could’ve done to prevent this
Sometimes, your child will need to be put in isolation
Our department has a school which helps your child maintain his studies and meet other children
Diagnosis of cancer
Many tests are required to accurately diagnose cancer. Among the tests that might be performed during diagnosis are CT scans, MRI, blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, ultrasound and more. For more detailed information about a variety medical tests, CLICK HERE.
Talking to Your Child
When a child feels that things are kept from him, he will ‘fill in the blank’ with his imagination, and sometimes that imagination is worse than reality. It’s important to discuss the disease with your child and encourage him to share his feelings and fears with you. Our department psychologists can assist you.
Types of Cancer
The most common type of cancer among children is leukemia. Thirty percent of children with cancer are suffering from leukemia. Fifteen to twenty percent of children suffer from medulloblastoma or astrocytoma (brain tumors) and 10%-15% suffer from lymphoma. These are the most common types of cancer found among children.
The Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department at Hadassah Hospital (Ein Kerem) is in the Mother and Child Building, on the fifth floor. It has both an in-patient and out-patient ward. There are a number of different types of treatment available, and usually doctors will administer a combination of drugs to ensure the best possible result. Treatment should be started as early as possible. Certain types of treatment methods require hospitalization and others do not.
Types of Treatment
Chemotherapy is the injection of a substance into the blood stream. The substance fights fast-splitting cells and prevents their development. Chemotherapy does cause certain side effects.
Surgery is performed by pediatric surgeons. It’s important to address your child’s fears about surgery. The surgery aims to remove the affected areas of the body, while preserving the healthy areas. Generally, children will undergo other treatment methods to lessen the size of the tumor.
Radiotherapy destroys the cancerous cells using high amounts of radiation. The treatment is localized. There are side effects, but they are not as significant as chemotherapy side effects.
Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone marrow is responsible for the production of red blood cells. Transplants replace the system that is producing diseased cells with one that will produce healthy cells.
Chemotherapy Side Effects
Side effects from chemotherapy are pretty well-known. Chemotherapy generally affects the skin and hair, the digestive system and the blood stream. Hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy. It grows back after treatments have ended. Patients generally experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and mouth sores while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The blood system is also weakened from the chemotherapy, including the immune system. Sometimes children are placed in isolation, in order to ensure a sterile environment.
Radiotherapy Side Effects
Side effects appear about 10 days after treatment. Side effects are localized.