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Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Abdominal Cancers

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Carcinoma of the Stomach

Primary gastric tumors in children are rare, and carcinoma of the stomach is even more unusual.[33] In one series, gastric cancer in children younger than 18 years accounted for 0.11% of all gastric cancer cases seen over an 18-year period.[34] The frequency and death rate from stomach cancer has declined worldwide for the past 50 years with the introduction of food preservation practices such as refrigeration.[35]

The tumor must be distinguished from other conditions such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, malignant carcinoid, leiomyosarcoma, and various benign conditions or tumors of the stomach.[33] Symptoms include vague upper abdominal pain, which can be associated with poor appetite and weight loss. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, change in bowel habits, poor appetite, weakness, and Helicobacter pylori infection.[34,36] Many individuals become anemic but otherwise show no symptoms before the development of metastatic spread. Fiberoptic endoscopy can be used to visualize the tumor or to take a biopsy sample to confirm the diagnosis. Confirmation can also involve an x-ray examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Treatment should include surgical excision with wide margins. For individuals who cannot have a complete surgical resection, radiation therapy may be used along with chemotherapeutic agents such as fluorouracil (5-FU) and irinotecan.[37] Other agents that may be of value are the nitrosoureas with or without cisplatin, etoposide, doxorubicin, or mitomycin C.

Prognosis depends on the extent of the disease at the time of diagnosis and the success of treatment that is appropriate for the clinical situation.[34] Because of the rarity of stomach cancer in the pediatric age group, little information exists regarding the treatment outcomes of children.

(Refer to the PDQ summary on adult Gastric Cancer Treatment for more information.)

Cancer of the Pancreas

Malignant pancreatic tumors are rare in children and adolescents with an incidence of 0.46 cases per 1 million (younger than 30 years).[38,39,40,41] Tumors included in this general category can arise at any site within the pancreas. Cancers of the pancreas may be classified as adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, acinic cell carcinomas, liposarcomas, lymphomas, papillary-cystic carcinomas, pancreatoblastomas, malignant insulinomas, glucagonomas, and gastrinomas.[42,43,44,45,46] Several cases of primitive neuroectodermal tumor of the pancreas have been reported in children and young adults.[47] Pancreatoblastoma is reported to be associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and Cushing syndrome.[48,49]

Most malignant pancreatic tumors are carcinomas and do not secrete hormones, although some tumors secrete insulin, which can lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, hypoglycemia, and coma.[41,42,50] If the tumor interferes with the normal function of the islet cells, patients may have watery diarrhea or abnormalities of salt balance. Both carcinoma of the pancreas and pancreatoblastoma can produce active hormones and can be associated with an abdominal mass, wasting, and pain.[51,52,53] At times, there is obstruction of the head of the pancreas, which is associated with jaundice and gastrointestinal bleeding. Elevation of alpha-fetoprotein has been seen in pancreatoblastoma and acinar cell carcinoma.[45,54,55,56]

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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