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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, honoring the more than 12,500 children diagnosed every year in the U.S. as well as the estimated 270,000 childhood cancer survivors.

  Gabe checks Chemo Duck
  Gabe Checks Chemo Duck
  Jillian and her mother
  Cancer survivor Jillian and her mother

Treatment of childhood cancer is one of modern medicine's success stories. Thirty years ago, few children with cancer lived, but now almost 75% are cured of their disease. As more lives are saved, new research is looking at preventing and treating late effects from treatment.

For more information about childhood cancer and resources available to patients and families, visit the following sites:

The surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy used to cure children sometimes affects growing bodies and developing minds. Some examples of late effects after cure from childhood cancer are:

  • Breast cancer at an early age in female Hodgkin's survivors who received radiation to their chest when children or adolescents. Their risk is about 15 to 20 times that of their peers who have not had Hodgkin's disease.
  • Heart disease after treatment with chemotherapy (anthracyclines) or high-dose chest radiation.
  • Learning disabilities in survivors treated with radiation and/or chemotherapy to the brain.
  • Second cancers related to chemotherapy drugs or radiation used to cure the first cancer. Survivor’s risk is over 6 times that of their peers who have not had childhood cancer.
  • Symptoms of posttraumatic stress syndrome in survivors and their parents.
  • Infection with the hepatitis C virus in survivors who received transfusions prior to 1992.

The likelihood that a child will develop these disorders depends on the age when he or she was treated as well as the intensity of the treatment received.