Cancer rates in children skyrocketing in the Valley

Cancer rates among children are on the rise and the Valley is no exception.

Already one local childhood cancer clinic is seeing a 10 percent increase from last year.

Victoria Guerra, Director of Development at Vannie Cook Children's Clinic in McAllen said leukemia is the most common type of cancer they see in children.

"We've actually have had a very busy year, already we had six diagnosis in January," said Guerra. "

We've already had eight for the month of February so our numbers are just going up."

Vannie Cook's cases are right on par with the national average where it shows rates have been rising 0.6% every year since 1975.

Guerra said they saw right under 700 new cases last year just in their clinic which she pointed out, is an alarming rate for a population of our size.

Sadly, a recent report by the American Cancer Society states that this year an estimated 15,780 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer and close to 2,000 will die of it.

But as it turns out the stat could be a little misleading.

"I don't think it's increasing, I just think we are diagnosing it quicker," said Dr. Lorimar Ramirez who is a childhood cancer survivor herself and the newest physician at Vannie Cook.

Her experience makes her uniquely qualified for the job.

Ramirez was diagnosed with leukemia at age 12 and now as an adult she said, she can closely relate to patients who look to her as hope they can survive as well.

"The first thing I tell them is your son has leukemia but the good thing is that we identified it and we can treat them and likely your child is going to get cured."

The report also showed children who survive five years after their treatment have a great chance of ultimately beating cancer.

But according to the doctor detection is key.

She told us some red flags could be bone pains, recurring fevers, weight loss, bruises, that you cannot explain, chills and night sweats.

Luckily for us in the Rio Grande Valley treatment has come incredibly far. Guerra explained that they have the latest technology in detecting cancer early.

The bottom line, if something doesn't seem right about your child, let your doctor know!

It TMs important to note the report also states more children are surviving cancer.

Death rates have fallen steadily at a 2.1 percent each year, since 1975 with an overall decline of more than 50 percent.