Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Childhood cancer awareness

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and on Monday morning, we shared some facts about cancer in kids that parents should know.

Courtney: How commonly does cancer occur in kids?

Dr. Arnold: About 36 children are diagnosed with cancer every day. About 12,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. It is the leading cause of death by disease for kids under age 15.

Courtney: What is the survival rate like for kids with cancer?

Dr. Arnold: The good news is that it is improving. The combined five year survival rate has increased by more than 20 percentage points in the last 30 years, but more research is still needed to help these kids and their families. The exact survival rate varies with the type of cancer.

Courtney: Once a child recovers, are there special concerns going forward?

Dr. Arnold: Yes, a child who is successfully treated for cancer needs extra monitoring through life, since some of the treatments for cancer can unfortunately cause side effects in a child's organs or increase future risk for other cancers.

Courtney: What is the most common kind of childhood cancer?

Dr. Arnold: Leukemias are the most common. They are cancers of the blood. They are about one third of cancers in children.

Courtney: Is there anything parents can do to help prevent cancer in children?

Dr. Arnold: While there isn't much that parents can do to protect against many kinds of childhood cancers, healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent cancers in the future. Getting sunburns can increase your risk for skin cancer, so make sure kids are using sunscreen. Avoid having your kids be around smokers to spare them from second hand smoke exposure. The CDC also recommends that both boys and girls receive the HPV vaccine series of shots to help prevent cervical as well as other forms of cancer.

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