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Although childhood cancer is rare, about 9,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Oncology, the study of cancer and tumors, has made significant progress in the prevention, treatment, and prognosis of many childhood cancers. Despite this progress, cancer is the chief cause of death by disease in children under age 15, and the fourth leading cause of death in children ages one to 19.

Picture of pediatric oncology patient being comforted by her physician

Childhood cancer varies from adult cancers in development, treatment, response to therapy, tolerance of therapy, and prognosis. In most cases, childhood cancer is more responsive to therapy, the child can tolerate more aggressive therapy, and the prognosis is better.

The future direction of oncology involves genetic research and improved treatment options. Discovery of certain "cancer genes" has made significant breakthroughs in the study of cancer. Much more investigation into human genes and development are still needed to understand cancer.

No two patients or families are alike. It is impossible to address every issue or situation that will arise. The purpose of this module is to provide an overview of childhood cancer, how it happens, how it is diagnosed and treated, as well as what to expect, and how to deal with it.


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