Pediatric oncology is the practice of diagnosing and treating cancers affecting children. There are 12 main types of cancer typically seen in such a practice. Of these, the three most common include leukemia, brain cancer, and cancers of the central nervous system. Oncology departments and practices may offer treatment for several forms of this disease or specialize in one of two specific types. Very large practices and departments may offer diagnosis and treatment for all forms of childhood cancer.
More than a third of all childhood cancer is due to leukemia. Leukemia refers to cancer in bone marrow, the part of the bone that makes blood cells. Most of all childhood leukemia is acute lymphatic leukemia, which means that the disease progresses very quickly. Most pediatric oncology offices will offer treatment and services for leukemia, as it is relatively common.
The second most common types of pediatric oncology are for cancers of the brain and the central nervous system. More than 15 percent of all pediatric cases are due to brain cancer. This type of detection and treatment can be very complicated due to the intricacies of the brain. There are several different types of tumors, which include glioma and carcinoma. They differ depending on the type of cell and location in the brain.
Other practices may specialize in children that have cancer in the central nervous system, also known as neuroblastoma. It is possible for a child to be born with neuroblastoma, but not diagnosed until symptoms are present. Diagnosis can be difficult, as neuroblastoma symptoms are similar to many other diseases.
Ewing's sarcoma is another type of pediatric oncology that relates to the long bones in the legs, arms, chest, or pelvis. While this can occur at any time, it most commonly develops during puberty. This is one form of the disease that has a high cure rate, as a number of therapies have been found to be very successful in treatment.
Practices or pediatric oncology departments may specialize in treatment of germ cell tumors that occur in the testes of boys and ovaries of girls. These tumors have also been found in other areas of the torso, as well as the brain. This type of cancer can easily spread.
Anther type of pediatric oncology focuses on Histiocytosis, also known as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, which is cancer of the immune system, a disease that is quite rare. Lymphoma or Hodgkin disease, which refers to cancer of the lymphoid system, is another area of expertise. Osteogenic Sarcoma refers to bone cancer, and retinoblastoma refers to eye cancer in chidlren, which are also treated by certain pediatric oncology specialists.