Each year, roughly 35 children at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida are diagnosed with cancer for the first time.
Dr. Kelly Sawczyn, a pediatric oncologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says lymphoma is one of the most common childhood cancers. “Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph node.”
It can develop anywhere in the body. It’s an aggressive cancer for children, but doctors say that’s actually a good thing. “When I say aggressive, I mean that they grow quickly but they are also treatable. So these are not things that the symptoms are lasting a year, these are things that a month ago it started and now it’s really getting worse,” said Dr. Sawczyn.
Aggressive cancers receive aggressive treatments, and because lymphoma grows quickly, it’s usually noticed quickly and treated quickly. Studies show 80 percent of children walk away as success stories. “Fortunately, with lymphoma for the most part it doesn’t matter if you’re diagnosed today, two weeks from now, or a month from now, you’re likelihood of being cured is going to be the same,” said Dr. Sawczyn.
Depending on the type of lymphoma children are usually treated with chemotherapy or radiation. The treatment can last three months or as long as two years. “It depends on the type, of which there are several, but the bottom line is that of those several types that we treat they are almost all curable. We have an excellent success rate with all cancers so 80 percent of all children diagnosed with cancer are going to be cured, and when we say cured we don’t mean just five years, we mean a lifetime,” said Dr. Sawczyn.
While the cause of childhood cancers are unclear, doctors say they are optimistic that the treatments are helping children beat cancer.
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