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Common Symptoms Of Leukaemia (Blood Cancer) In Children

Cancer is a disease that can affect any part of the body. As cancerous cells multiply at an abnormally high rate within the body, they ultimately destroy tissues and organs, which is why some types of cancer can be difficult to treat. Additionally, the relapse rates are very high with many types of cancers, resulting in higher mortality rates.

No matter the age, gender, health status, etc., cancer can affect any individual, including children.

What Is Leukaemia?

Leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood cells. Blood cells and platelets are produced in the bone marrow. In leukaemia, some new white blood cells (WBCs) do not mature properly. Immature cells reproduce rapidly, crowding out healthy cells and causing a variety of symptoms.

Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer. In most cases, the cause of childhood leukaemia cannot be determined. The symptoms of leukaemia can differ from child to child. Chronic leukaemia symptoms generally develop slowly, whereas acute leukaemia symptoms may emerge suddenly. Many of the symptoms of chronic leukaemia can be confused with symptoms of common childhood diseases [1][2].

Types Of Leukaemia In Children

There are various types of leukaemia in children. The majority of leukaemia in children are acute, meaning that they tend to grow rapidly. Types of leukaemia that affect children include the following [3]:

  • Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukaemia (ALL): This is the most common type of leukaemia in children.
  • Acute myelogenous (myeloid, myelocytic, non-lymphocytic) leukaemia (AML): This is the second most common type of leukaemia in children.
  • Hybrid or mixed-lineage leukaemia: This type is rare. It is a mix of ALL and AML.
  • Chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML): This type is also rare in children.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL): This type is extremely rare in children.
  • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML): This is a rare type of cancer that doesn't grow quickly (acute) or slowly (chronic).

Common Symptoms Of Leukaemia In Children

The common symptoms of childhood leukaemia include the following:

1. Bruising Easily

In general, children are very active, and they spend a lot of time playing outside. It is not uncommon for them to fall down, injure themselves, and suffer minor bruises from time to time. If, on the other hand, your child begins to bruise easily with soft falls or blunt impacts, which is happening too often, this may indicate leukaemia [4].

2. Nose Bleeds

In the event you notice that your child is experiencing frequent nose bleeding, at random times, with no other specific cause, such as heat stroke or injury to the nose, then this could also be an indication of leukaemia. As a result of this disease, the blood vessels in the nose tend to become weaker and more prone to breaking [5].

3. Poor Appetite

This symptom may seem very normal in children. They are prone to being fussy about food, so it may go unnoticed until it is too late. A child with leukaemia may experience a reduction in hunger as a result of the excess cells accumulating in the stomach and spleen, causing the intestines to produce fewer digestive juices [6].

4. Frequent Infections

When your child experiences persistent infections, even after treatment, this may be a sign of leukaemia. Leukaemia affects the white blood cells and gradually destroys them. White blood cells play a vital role in finding diseases and infection-causing agents, so leukaemia can affect the body's immunity [7].

5. Stomach Pain

Occasionally, children suffer from stomach pains caused by indigestion and gas. However, if your child has been experiencing constant and acute stomach aches without any signs of indigestion, then it may be because the leukaemia cells that have accumulated in the stomach have been affecting its tissues [8].

6. Breathing Trouble

Each organ and part of the body is supplied with blood, including the lungs. When cancerous cells are present in the blood because of leukaemia, these cells begin to destroy the lungs, causing respiratory problems such as wheezing and difficulty breathing in children [9].

7. Joint Pain

If you have noticed that your child is complaining of joint pain in the knees, elbows, back, etc., lately and that there has been no injury that triggered these symptoms, it could also be a sign of leukaemia. Inflammation and pain may result from the build-up of cancerous cells in the blood around joints [10].

8. Anaemia

Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells in the body decreases, resulting in weakness and other symptoms. In the event that your child exhibits symptoms of anaemia, such as dizziness, fatigue, lack of appetite, etc., please ensure that they are tested for anaemia, as well as leukaemia [11].

9. Swelling

Swelling of the armpits, joints, neck, collarbone, etc., of your child, could indicate leukaemia. There is a possibility that the cancerous cells may affect the lymph glands located in these areas of the body and cause swelling [12].

On A Final Note...

There are multiple forms of childhood leukaemia, and a number of factors such as early diagnosis and prompt treatment determine how the disease will develop and persist. You should consult your child's physician if you are concerned about any of the symptoms your child is experiencing

Story first published: Thursday, November 11, 2021, 16:06 [IST]
Read more about: cancer leukemia children