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Adolescents with Cancer: The Influence of Close Relationships on Quality of Life, D ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Adolescents with Cancer:

Chapter 1

Introduction

Childhood cancer consists of a large and diverse group of diseases, with the common factor for all variations of cancer involving a change in normal cells that leads to (a) rapid proliferation of abnormal cells, (b) spread of abnormal cells to other organs (i.e., metastasis), and (c) diminished or loss of normal cell or organ function (Armstrong, 2006). As these abnormal cells proliferate, the natural course of the disease ultimately leads to death when untreated, although the speed of progression varies dramatically across the different types of childhood cancer (Armstrong & Briery, 2004). The most common childhood cancer is leukemia (30%), followed by brain and other central nervous system (CNS) cancers (22.3%), neuroblastoma (7.3%), Wilms’ tumor (5.6%), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (4.5%), Hodgkin’s lymphoma (3.5%), rhabdomyosarcoma (3.1%), retinoblastoma (2.8%), osteosarcoma (2.4%), and Ewing’s sarcoma (1.4%) (American Cancer Society, 2007). Treatment of childhood cancer involves the use of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery (or any combination thereof) chosen based on the type and stage of cancer (Armstrong, 2006).