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Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
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Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. The cells are often shaped differently than healthy cells, don’t function properly and can spread to many areas of the body. Oncology is the study of cancer and tumors.
Tumors are clusters of cells that are capable of growing and dividing uncontrollably. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous):
The term "cancer" is generally used when a tumor is malignant. There are two types of malignant tumors: locally invasive and metastatic:
Staging is the process of finding out whether cancer has spread and if so, how far. There is more than one system used for staging, and your child’s physician can explain the stage of your child’s cancer.
It’s important to understand that cancer is not just one disease, but rather a group of diseases. All forms of cancer cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control.
There are big differences in the types of cancer and in survival rates. In general, childhood cancers are more successfully treated with a larger proportion of children cured compared with adult cancers. This difference is thought to be because childhood cancer is more responsive to therapy and a child can tolerate more intensive therapy when necessary.
Childhood cancers vary widely in how they affect a child, so how doctors diagnose and treat your child will depend on your child’s unique circumstances. For more information about specific cancers, choose one below.
There is no one single cause of cancer. Researchers and physicians believe the interaction of many factors that produces cancer. The factors involved may be genetic, environmental or behavioral.
In almost all cases, the cause of childhood cancer is unknown.
While the cause of cancer is generally unknown, some cancers, particularly in adults, have been associated with certain exposures or risk factors:
The discovery of certain types of genes that increase a person’s chances of developing cancer has been an extremely important development for cancer research. Genes make proteins. Altered genes (some of which carry errors called mutations) cause altered proteins, which in turn cause tumors. Researchers have observed that more than 90 percent of cancers have some type of genetic alteration. Some of these alterations are inherited, while others occur by chance or as the result of environmental exposures. Through clinical trials, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is using gene therapy – which introduces genetic material (DNA) into a patient’s cells to prevent or fight cancer – to treat certain pediatric cancers, blood disorders, and other conditions.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”