Due to advances in research and collaborative studies, the National Cancer Institute reports that the long-term survival for children with cancer has increased from less than 10% to almost 80% in the past 50 years.
In general, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, with particular cancers occurring more often:
brain and central nervous system tumor
tumors of developing tissues such as neuroblastoma, bone and soft tissue sarcomas
While most cancers in children occur by chance, a small portion can be linked to an inherited genetic syndrome. One study of 1,100 pediatric cancer patients evaluated by genetic specialists confirmed an inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome in 3.9% and a suspected syndrome in another 3.3%*.
Though your child may already be seeing a number of specialists, referral to a geneticist or a genetic counselor can be another important piece which may provide a better understanding of why your child developed cancer and what this diagnosis means for siblings and other family members.
If other family members have been diagnosed with cancers, this could indicate an inherited syndrome that increases risks for cancer. Some of the pediatric cancers that may suggest an inherited predisposition to cancer and warrant a referral to a genetics clinic include:
medullary thyroid cancer
adrenal cortical carcinoma
Physicians and genetic counselors in the Cancer Genetics Clinic at the University of Michigan meet with patients and families to review your family history and determine if genetic testing may help clarify risks for additional cancers in the family. Targeted screenings and other risk reduction efforts can be taken in an effort to prevent cancer in the future. The Cancer Genetics Clinic welcomes patients of all ages who may have questions about the risk of a genetic predisposition in their family.
Health professionals often refer to leukemia and lymphoma as “liquid tumors”. Also called blood cancers, these cancers can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells and the lymphatic system.
Every 4 minutes, 1 person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia and lymphoma are often grouped together and considered related cancers because they probably all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell.
Gracie's battle with cancer inspired The Original Murdick’s Fudge of Mackinac Island to support Gracie's Fund for leukemia research at Mott Children's Hospital.
At age four, Gracie Irish was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
“My husband and I were in complete shock,” says Gracie’s mom, Amy Irish. “We were numb.”
After sharing news of Gracie’s diagnosis, friends of the Irish family recommended they visit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for treatment. Acting on the recommendation, Gracie was airlifted from their hometown hospital to Mott by U-M’s Survival Flight crew.
Amy remembers this first interaction with U-M staff vividly.
“I was sobbing at this moment and a member of the flight crew immediately came over to reassure me,” she says. “He said, ‘don’t worry, she’s going to a great place – my own son was treated at Mott and is now a successful college student.’ It gave me a sense of hope from the very start.”
NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute the University of Michigan Health System as the original creator and include a link to this article.