What Is the Impact of Lung Cancer on Children?

Lung cancer is primarily triggered by toxins such as those found in cigarette smoke. Because of this, lung cancer is rare in pediatric patients. When a child is diagnosed with lung cancer at a children’s hospital, it is usually a secondary tumor of the lungs. This means that the cancer originated elsewhere and spread to the lungs. Primary lung tumors are quite rare, as you’ll learn when you watch this featured video presented by a pediatric pulmonologist at Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas.

Effects of the Disease
Lung cancer is a complex disease that can affect pediatric patients in many ways. The direct effects of childhood cancer can be seen in the symptoms it causes. Bronchial tumors, which may be benign or malignant, can cause the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Impaired breathing
  • Spitting up blood
  • Frequent respiratory infections

Pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) is a rare primary lung cancer known as soft tissue sarcoma. The signs and symptoms of PPB can vary based on the child’s age and whether he or she has Type I, II, or III PPB. Children under the age of two who have Type I PPB tend to display the symptoms of respiratory distress , including abnormal and difficult breathing. Children older than age two who have Types II or III PPB tend to experience general symptoms such as the following:

  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficult breathing

Effects of Cancer Treatments
At a children’s hospital that provides specialized cancer care, children are given the treatments that can help them survive their diagnosis. But often, cancer treatments can cause side effects. These side effects vary widely, depending on the specific treatment that is used. Before administering any cancer treatments, oncologists thoroughly explain the potential risks and benefits.

Effects of Hospitalization
Children’s hospitals try to make hospitalization a positive experience for children, but it’s to be expected that young cancer patients would experience anxieties related to their hospitalizations. A prolonged stay at a children’s hospital may lead to symptoms of stress, including sleep disturbances, bedwetting, and fearfulness. A children’s hospital may connect families to Child Life specialists who can help.

Childhood cancer requires specialized care, which families will find at Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas. Our Pediatric Oncology and Special Services offers a continuum of care to families, including Child Life services to help young patients cope with the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis. Call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (702) 233-5437 to request a referral to a specialist at our children’s hospital.

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