If your child does develop cancer, it is important to know that it is extremely unlikely there is anything you or your child could have done to prevent it. Unlike many cancers of adults, there are no lifestyle-related risk factors (such as smoking) that are known to influence a child’s risk of getting cancer. Very few environmental factors, such as radiation exposure, have been linked with childhood cancer risk.
However, a child might inherit a genetic alteration that makes them very likely to get a certain kind of cancer. These are the patients with hereditary cancer predisposition syndromes. In such cases, our primarily objective is to improve the chances of long-term survival by early detection of likely childhood cancers. This is done by implementation of cancer surveillance protocols consisting of appropriate imaging and testing for known biomarkers along with comprehensive interpretation of results and treatment strategies in a multidisciplinary approach.
In many cases exposure to radiation/chemotherapy may be unavoidable, such as if the child needs radiation therapy to treat another cancer. Children, who are long-term survivors of childhood cancers, are also seen in this clinic. Our primary objective for these patients is to monitor and prevent late effects of cancer treatment, namely endocrine issues (diabetes, hypothyroidism, growth failure, infertility), decreased bone density and avascular necrosis along with monitoring and early detection of potential disease relapse or development of other cancers. We want to see these long-term survivors of childhood cancer be productive part of the society and continue to lead normal lives.