Blood cancer in children: symptoms
Blood cancer is the most common type of cancer in children. In the medical community this disease is called leukemia or leukemia. A child with blood cancer in the bone marrow that created a large number of abnormal white blood cells, which increases the risk of infectious diseases and other problems.
Causes of blood cancer
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes most cases of leukemia in children. But to increase the risk of developing blood cancer can certain factors, although their presence does not mean the emergence of the disease in all children. Most children with leukemia have no known risk factors. The risk of developing childhood leukemia increased in the presence of the child:
- Some hereditary diseases such as down syndrome.
- Congenital problems with the immune system, e.g. ataxia telangiectasia.
- Relatives with blood cancer.
- History of exposure to high doses of radiation, chemotherapy or certain chemicals (e.g., solvent benzene).
- History of immunosuppression, for example in organ transplants.
The types of leukemia in children
In General, all leukemias are divided into acute and chronic. In children the vast majority of cases of blood cancer is acute. Acute childhood leukemia is also divided into:
- Lymphoblasts acute leukemia (ALL) or acute lymphocytic leukemia.
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or acute myelogenous leukemia.
This separation depends on what type of leukocytes – lymphocytes or myelocytes – are involved in the development of the disease. OLL develops more often in young children aged 2 to 8 years. AML can occur at any age but is more common in children under 2 years of age and adolescents. Most young patients have acute lymphocytic leukemia, only 20% of them diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia. Chronic leukaemia in children are extremely rare.
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The clinical picture of childhood leukemia
Symptoms of blood cancer are caused usually by problems with the bone marrow. The accumulation in it of leukemic cells can displace normal hematopoietic cells. As a result, the child may be a shortage of normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This shortage can be detected with a blood test, but it can also cause the appearance of clinical symptoms. Leukemic cells can infiltrate other areas of the body, causing the corresponding clinical symptoms.
Symptoms associated with a reduction in the number of red blood cells (anemia)
Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, so their deficiency may cause:
- General weakness.
- A sensation of cold.
- Dizziness and confusion of thoughts.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pallor of the skin.
Symptoms associated with a reduction in the number of normal white blood cells
Normal leukocytes important for the immune system, so reducing in their number leads to:
- Infectious diseases. Children with leukemia can very often suffer from infectious diseases. Although the total number of white blood cells in a child with leukemia is often increased due to the large number of leukemic cells, these cells do not protect his body from infections like normal white blood cells.
- The increase in temperature. Fever is often a sign of infectious disease, but some children with leukemia, the temperature may increase without it.
The symptoms associated with low platelet count
Blood platelets contribute to normal hemostasis, so their deficiency may cause:
- Easy bruising, hematomas, and bleeding.
- Frequent and severe bleeding from the nose and gums.
Symptoms related to the infiltration of leukemic cells into other organs
Leukemic cells can infiltrate other areas of the body, causing the following symptoms:
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- Joint pain is caused by the accumulation of abnormal cells near the surface of the bone or inside the joint.
- Abdominal enlargement in size and the accumulation of leukemia cells can occur in the liver and spleen, increasing their size.
- Poor appetite and reduced weight – while much enlarged liver and spleen these organs can press on the stomach and intestines. This leads to the fact that the child feels full after eating small amounts of food.
- Enlarged lymph nodes – leukemic cells may infiltrate the lymph nodes, which can be detected in certain body areas (neck, armpits, groin).
- Cough and shortness of breath. Leukemic cells can infiltrate into the structures of the mediastinum that put pressure on the windpipe, hindering breathing and causing cough. Sometimes they even accumulate in small blood vessels of the lungs that can also cause these symptoms.
- Swelling of hands and face. Increased the mediastinum can compress the superior Vena cava, disrupting blood flow to the hands and face, causing swelling. This can also be accompanied by dizziness, headaches, impaired consciousness.
- Headaches, cramps, vomiting. A small proportion of children with leukemia, the abnormal cells can invade the brain and spinal cord, causing neurological symptoms.
- Skin rash, problems with gums. Leukemic cells can invade the gums, causing bleeding, swelling and pain, as well as in the skin, causing small, dark spots.
It should be remembered that any of these symptoms can occur in other diseases.