ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. According to Carilion Clinic, more than 16,000 children up to 19-years-old are diagnosed with cancer every year in the U.S., which means at least 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day.
Dr. Violet Borowicz is a pediatric oncologist with Carillion Clinic. She says the most common form of childhood cancer is leukemia, followed by brain tumors.
Symptoms of Leukemia:
- Bone pain
- Leg pain
- Difficulty walking (depending on age)
- Increased bruising or bleeding
Signs of Brain Tumors:
- Persistent headaches
- Personality changes
- Early morning vomiting
There are constantly new studies being examined in the effort to find a cure. Recent studies include the impact of decreasing the amount of chemotherapy doctors give patients to achieve the same outcomes with less side effects.
The newest form of therapy gaining popularity is called “CAR T-cell therapy.” Dr. Borowicz believes it can be effective in relapse leukemia.
“Essentially, using their own immune system to help fight against cancer,” she said about the therapy. “Cells are collected from the patient and targeted to use against the type of cancer they have. They are basically tagged and then given back to try and target the cancer cells.”
Between 20 and 30 kids will end up receiving treatment at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital every year. However, there are a lot of ways people can contribute to the fight against childhood cancer, especially in their own communities.
In addition to contributing money in the push to find a cure, Dr. Borowicz encourages people to identify families in their own neighborhoods who may have a child battling cancer and consider buying groceries for those families or gift cards for meals.
Another way to alleviate burdens on those families is to pay for gas as they may have to travel far distances several times a month for treatment. Sometimes, those facilities can be several hours away and even in different states.
Dr. Borowicz wants each child and their families to be as comfortable as possible during the fight.
“We will repeat ourselves. Talk about it as much as we need to,” she said. “We want parents to ask questions. We want the children, especially if they are of age, to ask questions. We want to make sure they know everything that is happening for every step of the way. It is not just the kids who are impacted by this. It is their parents, their siblings, extended family members, and that support can go a long way for families.”
According to Carilion Clinic, more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year around the world. In addition, nearly 95 percent of childhood cancer survivors will have significant treatment-related health effects or live with chronic health conditions.