Child & Teen Cancers

“Childhood cancers have escalated to alarming proportions in recent years.”    ~ Samuel Epstein, M.D.

Cancer in babies, children and teenagers differs notably from adult forms of the disease.

According to the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are 12 major types of cancer that affect children, plus a few more that are rare.

Recent studies show that cancer affects American children in different ways, depending on race and ethnicity.  White and Hispanic children have the highest incidence of teenage cancers, while Black and Asian children have the lowest survival rate.  Native American children have the lowest rates of childhood and teenage cancers.  More research is needed to understand the environmental, genetic, and lifestyle reasons for the differences.



Brain cancer is the most common solid malignancy in children and teens, and is known as gliomas.

•   Headache, often upon awakening

•   Problems with eyes or vision

•   Speech difficulty, loss of balance

•   Vomiting, often early in the day

•   Weakness

•   Increase in head size

•   Seizures

•   Pain in the head or neck



This is a type of cancer that often shows up in the bones, but also may be found in soft tissues. Ewing’s Sarcoma occurs most frequently in teenagers.

•    Pain or swelling around bone joints

•    A bone may fracture

•    Pain in the back area



A solid tumor that usually begins in the adrenal glands, but can also be found in the abdomen, chest, neck or pelvis.  90% of kids diagnosed with neuroblastoma are younger than five years old.  Sadly, by the time a child is diagnosed, there is a 70% chance the cancer has already spread. It is most often found in children under two years of age.

•   Swelling, pain in the abdomen   

•   Changes in the eyes

•   Fatigue caused by anemia

•   Bruises, bleeding

•   Fever

•   Rapid heartbeat

•   Jerking muscles


The most common liver cancer in very young children.  Premature babies have a higher risk.



A form of liver cancer that occurs more frequently in older children.  A risk factor is Hepatitis B or C and is greatest when the Hepatitis virus passes from mother to child during birth.

•   Jaundice (yellow skin or whites of the eyes)

•   Itchy skin

•   Swollen, painful abdomen

•   Nausea, vomiting



The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck. It makes and stores hormones that regulate a child’s growth, body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and more.

•   One or more lumps in the neck

•   Difficulty swallowing or breathing

•   Hoarse voice

•   Sense of tightness in the neck

•   Family history of thyroid cancer may be a factor



A rare cancer of the eye that occurs usually in babies to early teen years. About 40% of kids who develop eye cancer have a genetic form of the disease.

•   Enlarged pupil

•   Crossed eyes

•   Poor vision

•   Different colored iris



There has been a dramatic increase in recent years of testicular cancer.

•   Lump in one or both testicles

•   Enlarged testicle

•   Dull ache in the groin     

•   Sense of heaviness in scrotum          

•   Enlarged nipples and breasts



Believed to be caused by the Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV8), it is common in Equatorial Africa and now seen in the United States. Typically, lesions appear in the mouth or skin and some penetrate to the bone, digestive system, and the lungs.

•   Skin lesion

•   Pain in the chest

•   Swollen lymph glands or limbs

•   Sores inside the mouth

•   Breathlessness

•   Fatigue



Children with this form of cancer usually range in ages between 2 months and 14 years.

•   Abdominal mass or pain

•   Fever



A common cancer in children and teens, it begins in the bone marrow and spreads into the bloodstream. A significant number of kids have cancer return after the treatments.

•   Fatigue

•   Tiny red spots under the skin

•   Painful bones and joints

•   Bleeding, bruises

•   Swollen spleen or liver

•   Tender lymph nodes



The most common bone cancer, usually found in older kids and teens. It is associated with rapid growth. Osteosarcoma usually begins in the leg or upper arm, although it may develop in any bone, and may spread.  It sometimes results in the amputation of the cancerous limb.

•   Pain or swelling about the bone joint

•   The bone may fracture

•   The child may limp if the cancer affects a leg bone  



Girls ages 3 years to 15 years have a one in 228

risk of developing rare forms of juvenile breast

cancer. The disease in girls and teens is more

aggressive and causes higher death rates than

breast cancer in adult women.  

Juvenile Secretory Carcinoma is a slow-growing

breast cancer, while Cystosarcoma Phylloides 

grows rapidly in the young breast.

•   Lump or thickening in the chest area

•   Unusual nipple discharge

•   Redness or swelling on the chest



Nearly 95% of kidney cancers in children are Wilms’ Tumor. It occurs more often in black girls.  Wilms’ cancer may affect one or both kidneys.  The American Cancer Society claims that the risk occurs more often in children with certain kinds of birth defects.

•   Fever

•   A lump or pain in the abdomen

•   Blood in the urine

•   Diarrhea

•   Weight loss

•   Urogenital infections



A cancer that occurs most often where the skeletal muscles originate: the head and neck, urinary and reproductive organs, arms and legs and trunk.  It is more common in kids younger than ten years of age.

•   A rapidly growing, firm lesion on the arm or leg

•   Weakness of facial nerves, sinus infection, headaches

•   Discharge from the ears

•   Headaches or swelling around the eye

•   Blood in the urine or from the vagina in a young child



A cancer that tends to develop in the lymph nodes of the neck, armpit, or groin.  A weakened immune system increases the risks.

•   Swollen lymph nodes that don’t respond to antibiotics

•   Poor appetite

•   Night sweats

•   Itchy skin

•   Weight loss

•   Fever

•   Not feeling well


Symptoms (Depending on site)

A type of cancer affecting lymph nodes found deep within the body. They are often found in the upper chest, near the bowels or appendix. It usually affects older children or teenagers.

•   Swelling of the abdomen

•   Fever, chills

•   Night sweats

•   Cough, shortness of breath


Symptoms (Depending on site)

A rare cancer, the most aggressive in kids where they are weakened by malaria. It is associated with the Epstein-Barr virus and HIV, and usually appears as a facial tumor, in the nasal sinuses, and lymph nodes although it may also be found in the abdomen.

•   Itchy skin

•   Tumor in the mouth or face

•   Swollen abdomen

•   Pain 

•   Loosened teeth

Please help us Conquer Cancer in This Generation! Donate today. You’ll feel good knowing that your gifts make a difference.

Donate Now!

Children Against Cancer is dedicated to Conquer Cancer in This Generation

   © 2001 - 2024 Children Against Cancer is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Mission Society

TIN 20-4302820   -   -   All Rights Reserved Worldwide



13835 North Tatum Blvd

Suite 9 - 160

Phoenix, AZ 85032 U.S.A.

Phone: (602) 789-1077


Please note: This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not the practice of medicine. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Children Against Cancer assumes no liability or responsibility for the accuracy of information provided by health experts or how it is used. If you have health questions, please consult a qualified physician. Thank you.