What are the differences between cancers in adults and children?
The types of cancers that develop in children are often different from those in adults. Unlike many cancers in adults, childhood cancers are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors.
In most cases, childhood cancers tend to respond better to treatments such as chemotherapy (chemo). Children’s bodies also tend to withstand chemo better than adults’ bodies do. But chemo and other treatments can have some long-term side effects, so children who have had cancer need careful attention for the rest of their lives.
Children and teens with cancer and their families have special needs that are best met by children's cancer centers. Treatment in these centers offers the advantage of a team of experts with experience in treating children. The team can include (besides doctors and nurses) psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, educators, and others.
In the United States, most children with cancer are treated at a pediatric cancer center that is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). All of these centers are part of a university or a children’s hospital. As doctors have learned more about treating childhood cancer, it has become even more important that treatment be given by experts in these diseases.
When a child or teen has cancer, it affects every family member and nearly every aspect of the family’s life. You can read more about coping with these changes in our document Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis.
Last Medical Review: 11/11/2013
Last Revised: 02/03/2014