Primary lung cancer is extremely rare in children. Pediatric non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the term for occurrence of NSCLC in children and adolescents. NSCLC that develops in young people is typically ALK-positive and this is where mutation on the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene causes lung cancer. ALK-positive NSCLC is a specific sub-type that is associated with a younger age of onset and affected individuals with no or limited history of smoking.
Though pediatric NSCLC is rare, doctors are still trying to identify the symptoms of this disease. It may start with chronic cough and might also cause chest pain with cough. The other common lung cancer symptoms include unintended weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, breathing problems etc. NSCLC can potentially spread to other parts of the body as well.
As far as the diagnosis of pediatric non-small cell lung cancer is concerned, it is often not suspected in children with unexplained symptoms of lung disease. The common tests to diagnose this disease may include these:
The identification is often based on identification of common symptoms, detailed family and patient history, thorough clinical evaluation etc.
Sputum cytology is a test in which the mucus coughed up from the lungs is studied under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.
Chest X-Ray and CT Scan
A plain X-Ray of the chest can show a tumor in the lung. Computerized Tomography can also be used. In this, a procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas are taken from different angles.
Another advanced imaging technique is called positron emission tomography. In this process, a radioactive sugar is injected into the body. A PET scan is often used to show whether NSCLC has spread or how it is responding to the treatment.
Doctors can also use surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat pediatric NSCLC. Clinical trials are also ongoing with the purpose of identifying new forms of treatment for this disease.
The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only.