September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
9/24/2012
Heather Paulson, ND, FABNO
Given the number of children affected by cancer it is very likely that you have observed a family going through what it takes to support a child with cancer, or you are/were that family
Monday, September 24, 2012
by: Heather Paulson, ND, FABNO

Section: Pediatrics

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Dr. Heather Paulson

Heather Paulson, ND, FABNO is a board certified naturopathic oncologist that focuses on supporting children and young adults affected by cancer. Dr. Paulson is part of several pediatric oncology support groups including The Melonhead Foundation and Lucy's Love Bus. The Life Center at Arizona Natural Health Center is where Dr. Paulson practices as part of a team approach to cancer care with Dr. Betsy Rice. If you have any questions about cancer, you can reach her at www.aznaturalhealth.com, info@aznaturalhealth.com, or 480-456-0402.
Currently, childhood cancer is the leading cause of death in children under 15 years old. The good news is that the successful treatment of pediatric cancers continues to improve.
 
Cancer in general is defined as a disease of abnormal cell growth. These abnormal cells can then invade other tissues and spread through the blood and lymph system, which is termed malignant or metastatic. A tumor is not always cancerous, and may be termed benign. A benign tumor usually grows slower, does not spread to other tissues, and usually do not come back once removed. Although the immune and genetic factors that cause childhood cancers are being better defined, we still do not know the exact cause or trigger of most childhood cancers.

Cancer in a child is very different from cancer in an adult. Many adult cancers can be attributed to diet or lifestyle factors as a trigger to cancer growth. In children, cancer is generally due to predisposing genetic conditions. Some childhood cancers are also due to environmental exposure and immune suppression. Some of the exposures that can lead to a childhood cancer are radiation exposure, possibly electromagnetic fields, and parental exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, and petroleum products.
 
If a child is diagnosed with cancer, naturopathic medicine can . . . reduce side effects, support the immune system, reduce weight loss, and reduce fatigue. NDs can treat neuropathy, hearing changes, mouth sores, weight loss and radiation burns.

The most common types of cancer in children are leukemia, brain tumors, neuroblastoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The signs of childhood cancer include unexplained weight loss, headaches with vomiting, pain in the bones that is persistent, a lump or a mass, excessive bleeding or bruising, unexplained rash, constant infections, persistent nausea, constant fatigue, sudden vision changes, and recurring unexplained fevers.
 
If a child is diagnosed with cancer, naturopathic medicine can help support their bodies. Naturopathic medicine can reduce side effects, support the immune system, reduce weight loss, and reduce fatigue. Naturopathic physicians can treat neuropathy (numbness and tingling), hearing changes, mouth sores, weight loss, and radiation burns.
 
When pairing conventional oncology with naturopathic medicine, children can complete treatments in a timely manor and maintain some health through their treatments. Naturopaths can support children with vitamins, herbs, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and even IV therapies. Naturopathic medicine can also be helpful with choosing which foods to focus on during treatment, whether the child is having taste changes, nausea, or decreased appetite.
 
Once a child has completed treatment, naturopathic medicine can support the body in returning to optimal function. A naturopath that specializes in oncology can help reduce the long-term side effects from treatment. Some of the long-term side effects can include heart and lung damage, thyroid dysfunction, and low red and white blood cell counts.
 
If you are interested in finding a naturopath that can support a child with cancer, please visit www.oncanp.org. You can also find resources for helping pay for natural medicine treatments at www.melonhead.org and www.lucyslovebus.org.
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