When cancer strikes children and young people, it affects them differently than it does adults. For example, young patients often have a more advanced stage of cancer when first diagnosed. While only about 20 percent of adults with cancer have evidence that the disease has already spread when it is diagnosed, 80 percent of children's cancer has already invaded distant sites at diagnosis. While most adult cancers are linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, or exposure to cancer-causing agents, the causes of most childhood cancers are unknown.
Adult cancers primarily affect the lung, colon, breast, prostate and pancreas, while childhood cancers usually affect the white blood cells (leukemias), brain, bone, the lymphatic system, muscles, kidneys, and nervous system.
While most adult cancer patients are treated in their local community, cancers in children are rarely treated by family physicians or pediatricians. A child with cancer must be diagnosed precisely and treated by physicians and clinical and laboratory scientists who have special expertise in managing the care of children with cancer. Such teams are found only in major children's hospitals, university medical centers, and cancer centers.
child psychologist A mental-health professional with a Ph.D. who conducts scientific research and/or provides psychological services to infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. Child psychology is focused on understanding, preventing, diagnosing and treating children's psychological, cognitive, emotional, developmental, behavioral, and family problems.
Child psychologists work in a variety of settings including private practice, hospitals, schools, and within the justice system. They do therapy, testing, evaluation, consultation, teaching, and research, depending on where they work and their specific job requirements.
Child psychologists must have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, a master's degree (another two years) in psychology, and a doctorate in psychology, which may take up to five years after that, including internships and writing a dissertation. In most states a doctorate is required to practice independently as a child psychologist.
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