Written by Courtney Ingle

There is no way to prevent childhood cancer, but there are ways to still be proactive in your child’s health.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and while few parents will ever face such a nightmare, all parents can be proactive in their children’s health and catch any potential issues early.

Dr. Adam Adcock

Dr. Adam Adcock, a pediatrician for The Children’s Clinic in Flowood, has seen childhood cancer and the impact it has had on families.

“As the child’s Pediatrician I would want to be sure that from the outset the family as a whole felt that they understood as much of the information concerning the diagnosis and possible treatment plan,” said Adcock. “This may also entail organizing resources with them as far as local hospitals/clinics, out-of-town centers and networks both for medical care and mutual encouragement and support.”

Though not often discussed, detecting childhood cancers is just another reason to keep up with the routine visits from birth throughout adolescence.

“These regular visits allow a child’s Pediatrician to have the opportunity to monitor changes in growth, assess vital signs, do a physical examination, discuss any concerning signs or symptoms, review emotional and social health, administer any recommended vaccinations and do any screening labs that may be indicated,” Adcock said.

Some childhood cancers have obvious signs that need to be addressed quickly; for example, a white glow in a child’s eye in dim light or in a photo can be a sign of retinoblastoma, a malignant tumor that forms on the retina. However, not all childhood cancers are so obvious in the beginning.

“There are other more non-specific signs that are monitored over time and when they either do not resolve or continue to worsen, medical intervention escalates,” Adcock said.

Routine visits do not guarantee that a child never develops a cancer, but Adcock added that they are a very valuable tool in addressing any concerns that may arise with a child’s health.

As impossible as it may seem, parents who have a child that is diagnosed with cancer have the task of taking treatment one day at a time, advocating for their child, and also being mindful of the future. A childhood cancer diagnosis does not always guarantee a subsequent cancer in adulthood, but there must still be a long-term plan in place.

“There should be a treatment plan and possibly a survivorship care plan in place to allow the family and their medical team to have as much information as possible,” Adcock said.

Knowing survivorship rates, types of treatments and their side effects, and the lasting impacts of the cancer are vital in the journey the family will face.

“These plans enable all who care for the child to be on the same page so that if anything comes up even a good number of years after treatment, things are less likely to be missed,” said Adcock.

There is no way to prevent childhood cancer, but there are ways to still be proactive in your child’s health.

“The best thing parents can do is to know their child,” said Adcock. “This may sound common- sense but parents have the best chance of picking up on things that may be unusual in the life of their child and can bring it to their pediatrician’s attention.”

Written by Courtney Ingle