Can Kids Get Melanoma? What Parents Need to Know

Yawkey Center for Cancer Care healing garden.

Although melanoma is more commonly found in adults, childhood and adolescent melanoma affects approximately 300 children in the U.S. each year. Thankfully, the incidence rate has started to decrease in recent years. While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer in adults, skin cancer in children is almost always melanoma. The biggest increase in melanoma incidences has been in girls ages 15-19, possibly because girls are more likely than boys to sunbathe and use tanning beds. Because melanoma often appears differently in children than in adults, doctors and parents sometimes overlook it or misdiagnose it as a different skin …

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What Are the Differences Between Adult and Childhood Brain Tumors?

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Brain tumors are relatively rare for people of any age, but they can occur in both children and adults. In fact, tumors of the spinal cord and brain are the second most common types of cancer in children, after leukemia. But there are some key differences between brain tumors that occur in adults and those in children. “Compared to adults, children are more likely to develop tumors in the lower parts of the brain – the brain stem and cerebellum – which are areas that affect movement and coordination,” says Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology at …

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Young Patients’ Artwork Shows Creativity and Courage

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The artist Henri Matisse once said, “creativity takes courage.” So does facing cancer as a child. Cancer, creativity and courage merged at a recent exhibit of art by patients of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The artwork was created during the FACES (Feeling Accepted, Confident, Empowered and Strong) and FLASHES (Filming Life and Sharing Hope, Encouragement and Strength) support groups, which provide Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s patients with socialization, discussion and expression through art. Here is a sampling of the patients’ work and what they say about it: Cassandra Crowley, 20, of Arlington, Massachusetts Lymphoma, stem cell transplant Paintings “I wanted …

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What Specialists Does a Child See When Diagnosed with Cancer?

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Physicians tend to move quickly when a child is diagnosed with cancer. That’s because some of the most common types of childhood cancers (such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), neuroblastoma, and brain tumors) can appear in a matter of days or weeks and progress rapidly. In such cases, prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are an important part of the treatment plan. So, too, are the specialists a child will see from a first visit onward. At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, a child diagnosed with cancer will usually start by getting a series of medical tests, which …

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Patients Celebrate Pig Day: A Jimmy Fund Clinic Tradition

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This post originally appeared on The Jimmy Fund Blog.  By Erica Equi Seven years ago, Martha Young, program manager of Patient and Family Education at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, met a young patient who shared her same unique love for pigs. Together, they discovered the seldom-celebrated holiday, National Pig Day, and came up with a creative idea they knew would bring smiles to patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. On March 1, 2008 patients and their families walked into the Jimmy Fund Clinic thinking it was going to be a regular day, but were surprised by the pig-inspired festivities there waiting …

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What You Need to Know for Life After Childhood Cancer Treatment

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Completing cancer treatment can bring a range of emotions for pediatric patients and their families. While they may be relieved to finish chemotherapy or radiation, there is often anxiety about relapse, returning to “normal life,” or how to handle side effects that occur years down the road. “Finishing treatment can be a very scary time,” says Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “There is something about regular clinic visits that is very reassuring. When families don’t have to return for a couple of months, they can sometimes feel anxious knowing they …

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Young Patients Create Global Artwork

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Although childhood cancer is relatively rare in the United States, around 200,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. Of those cases, approximately 80 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries, which average a 20 percent survival rate. The remaining 20 percent of diagnoses are in high-income countries, which average an 80 percent survival rate. In anticipation of International Childhood Cancer Day on February 15, patients at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center recently participated in craft activities that represented some of the 21 countries where the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) works to improve outcomes for children with …

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Discovering New Ways to Approach the Treatment of Rare Brain Tumors

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Until a few years ago, there were only a handful of known survivors of atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT), a rare cancer that affects the brain and central nervous system. When researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center studied how these few survivors were treated, they found three had been given an unusual chemotherapy regimen. They decided to try that therapy with several new and relapsed patients. “We had two kids with newly diagnosed AT/RT and two that had relapsed, and three of them did very well,” says Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, director of Medical Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston …

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Can Babies Be Born with Cancer?

Can babies be born with cancer?

For any parent, having a child with cancer is devastating. For the parents of Carrick Stafford Wood, it was even more so. Carrick was born with cancer, specifically acute myeloid leukemia (or AML). He spent the first six months of his life in the hospital before finally going home on Christmas Day. We spoke to Lisa Diller, MD, clinical director of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, about this rare scenario. Is it unusual for babies to be born with cancer? It’s unusual, but it can happen. The most common cancer in newborns is neuroblastoma – …

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Girls Fight Cancer with Glitz and Glamour

For 24 young girls, a recent getaway weekend replaced exam rooms with dressing rooms, hospital bracelets with stylish bangles, and MRI images with professional photographs. Every year, teenagers and young women ages 13-23, who are being treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, go on a “Girls Weekend” in Boston. The weekend includes a musical, a makeover, shopping, and more.