Can You Believe She Suffers From Cancer?

Suzla Mary, now a 5-year-old girl had to suffer from blood cancer—one of the most dreadful disease known to mankind. She was just two and half years old child by that time. Her father was then posted in New Delhi in India during the course of a job in a multinational company.

It was in August 2013 when she was first admitted in the hospital when her platelets started falling suddenly.

She remained admitted in All India Institute of Medical Sciences for a few days, but was soon relieved. Doctors initially guessed it a normal dengue fever case, a more prevalent mosquito led disease in Delhi during the rainy season.

By the end of December her situation started deteriorating again as the blood platelets started falling fast. Doctors carried out a few tests and diagnosed it Leukemia. Her parents were totally devastated. It was but natural.

Despite a lot of advancement in the treatment, it still creates a chilling sensation in the spine. But as it happens they had to gather courage to save her child.

Image: Abstract Cancer Cell With Metastasis

Soon the treatment started. She was treated with radiation therapy for a few month. Every week her parents drove her to hospital for chemotherapy. Her hairs also started falling because of the heavy dose of radiation. After two years, her visit to the oncology center became less frequent.

Suzla ultimately survived. Doctors told her parents that she will be able to lead a normal adult life. She is one of the thousands of children who develop cancer in the childhood every year. But they are also treated successfully.

The success rate is as high as 80 percent which is quite incredible. You may not believe it, but pediatric oncologists are really very good at treating cancer in children.

On the other hand, the survival rate of cancer for adult females is just 63 percent and 66 percent for males, according to a news report in the Popular Science magazine.

Why the difference in the success rates of cancer treatment?

This can be partly attributed to the types of cancers more prevalent in children, the difference in the immune system, and the way doctors treat to children.

“Childhood cancer is a different animal. Even though it has a similar end point, the body in which it occurs is quite different than that of adult.” says Alan Gamis, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Blame nature and conditioning

Though cancers are the result of a lethal genetic mutation, but situations are very different for adults and kids. Young children’s have healthy lungs and other vital organs are in better shape. Adults, on the other hand, had already destroyed their lungs and levers by smoking and drinking in most cases.

Image: A Hopeful girl with cancer

In children, the cancer tissues spread very fast so the symptoms become apparent sooner. The symptoms become apparent quite fast. So it can be treated at an early stage. However, cancer cells grow slowly in adults making it difficult to diagnose at the onset.

In some cases it has been found that the size of cancer tumor doubled in just 12 hours. Also, unlike adults there are just 1-2 lethal mutations in children cells.

Because of higher rate of metabolisms and other factors, kids can tolerate a higher dose of radiation. They are far more resilient to the exposure of radiation.

Andrew Kung, the head of the Pediatric Hematology, Oncology at New York Presbyterian Hospital says, “If you come to our clinic, you see the kids running around, and you would not know that these are kids with cancer, except that they are bald. Whereas adults getting the same kinds of therapies would be laid up in bed.”

Cancer in children are treaded differently

Image: A radiologist with girl

Most of the cancer detected children in the U.S. are treated in universities where researchers collaborate with each other. They also experiment new drugs and share their knowledge and results.

This is not the case with adults as they are often treated in a local hospital. Adult patients don’t even know about the option of clinical trials. All of these factors put them at disadvantaged.
Many adult cancer oncologists are also not aware of the most advanced treatment methods because of the lack of knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Though biology is not in favor adults, but the success rate of cancer treatment can certainly be improved by adopting the practices of Pediatric oncologists.

Read next week : The Dirty Secrets of Child Cancer Treatment That Doctors will Never Tell You

(Source: Some of the information in the story have been taken the Popular Science Magazine)


Chief Content Strategist

An active journalist and blogger with more than a decade of experience. He has worked with various national and international publications. Sharing behind the curtain news is his passion.

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