What is Cancer

Cancer is a result of changes in the body's cells that cause them to grow out of control.
A tumor is a mass, or collection, of cells. Tumors can be benign or malignant:

  • Benign tumors are noncancerous.
  • Malignant tumors are cancerous; they can travel to areas away from the original (primary) site and grow in other parts of the body. This is called metastasis.
  • Cancer appears in humans of all ages; however, cancers that occur in children below 18 years of age (childhood cancers) are largely different than those that occur in adults.

What about the treatment? Cancer treatment consists of at least one, but in most cases a combination, of the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery, including special types of surgery such as Limb Salvage Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation

The duration of treatment in most cases ranges between 6 months and 3 years, depending on the cancer type. If not treated, cancer is fatal.

Main types of Childhood Cancer are:
1- Leukemia:

  • The most common childhood cancer
  • 1% of all cancers in children less than 15 years old

Treatment consists of:
. Chemotherapy for most patients
. Stem Cell Transplant for some patients

*Average cure rate at the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) is 80%

2- Brain Tumors:

  • The 2nd most common childhood cancer
  • 20-25% of all cancer in children less than 15 years old

Treatment in most cases consists of a combination of:
. Chemotherapy
. Surgery
. Radiation therapy

*Cure rate at the CCCL ranges between 40 and 80% depending on tumor subtype and stage.

3- Lymphomas

  • The 3rd most common childhood cancer
  • 10-15% of all cancer in children less than 20 years old

Treatment consists of:
. Chemotherapy
. Radiation in some patients

* Average cure rate at the CCCL is 90%

4- Bone Tumors
Childhood bone cancers are:

  • Osteosarcoma - most common
  • Ewing's sarcoma - 2nd most common

Treatment consists of:
. Chemotherapy and Surgery for Osteosarcoma
. Chemotherapy and either Surgery or Radiation for Ewing's sarcoma

* Average cure rate at the CCCL is 50-70%

5- Soft Tissue Tumors

  • Childhood soft tissue cancers are heterogeneous in nature
  • Effective treatment requires multidisciplinary team and plan

Treatment consists of a combination of:
. Chemotherapy
. Surgery
. Radiation therapy
*Average cure rate at the CCCL ranges between 40 and 70%; depending on tumor type and extent

The most common presentations of cancer in children are a combination of the following symptoms that occur persistently (for duration of at least one week).

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Fever
  • Easy bleeding/Bruisability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone/Joint pain
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite/Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Blurred/Abnormal vision

Children with such symptoms should be seen by a pediatrician, who will then perform the needed testing and find out the cause. In case a tumor is causing the symptoms, the pediatrician will then directly refer the child to our specialized Cancer Center for further testing and proper treatment.

Cancer
" With all my love to those who suffer and those who work for them not to… "

Juan Carlos Gafo, 2011
Ambassador of Spain to Lebanon