Can childhood cancers be found early?
Cancers in children often are hard to recognize right away because the symptoms can overlap with much more common illnesses or injuries. Children often get sick or have bumps or bruises that might mask the early signs of cancer. Parents should be sure that their children have regular medical check-ups and watch for any unusual signs or symptoms that do not go away. These include:
- An unusual lump or swelling
- Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
- Easy bruising
- An ongoing pain in one area of the body
- Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
More specific information on symptoms is in the section, “What are the most common types of childhood cancers?” Other symptoms are also possible, depending on the type of cancer.
Most of these symptoms are much more likely to be caused by something other than cancer, such as an injury or infection. Still, if your child has any of these symptoms, check with your doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Some children may have a higher chance of developing a specific type of cancer because of certain gene changes they inherit from a parent. These children may need careful, regular medical check-ups that include special tests to look for early signs of cancer.
Last Medical Review: 09/20/2012
Last Revised: 01/18/2013