7 Important Symptoms Of Leukemia In Children
"Symptoms of leukemia can be a variable spectrum. But there are certain common symptoms of this disease which are persistent in 95% of the patients," says Dr. Gaurav Kharya.
Leukemia is one of the most common forms of cancer in kids
- Leukemia is the cancer of the blood
- Fever of unexplained origin could be a possible symptom of leukemia
- Kids with Acute Myeloid Leukemia may experience rashes and gum problems
Leukemia is the cancer of the blood. Like other forms of cancer, this one tends to be quite deadly and to make things worse, it is very common in children. The potential risk factors for this disease are still unknown. But the good news is that it can be treated successfully. Our expert Dr. Gaurav Kharya explains what leukemia is all about and what its potential symptoms are. He says, "Leukemia is the cancer of the blood. In a layman's term, it is called blood cancer. Of the three components of blood, leukemia is the abnormal proliferation of the white cells. In kids, it is mainly Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), ALL tends to be more common in kids."
"Symptoms of leukemia can be a variable spectrum. But there are certain common symptoms of this disease which are persistent in 95% of the patients," he added.
Here's a list of the top 7 most common symptoms of leukemia. Take a look.
1. Persistent fever
"Unexplained fever is a symptom of leukemia, not just in kids but in any person for that matter. Fever of unexplained origin could be a possible symptom of leukemia. When fever is persistent without any infection or any health issue for that matter, it could be a symptom of blood cancer," Dr. Kharya explained.
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2. A sudden drop in hemoglobin levels
"A sudden drop in hemoglobin in kids could also be a symptom. If parents start noticing that in the past 10 to 15 days or a couple of weeks, their child has become quite pale, they must check with a doctor as it is a potential symptom of leukemia. This is a symptom which persists in 95-99% patients," he said.
3. Joint pain
Dr. Kharya says that joint pains could also a symptom. "Sometimes a child complains of joint pains due to swelling in that area. This could also be a potential sign of leukemia. Though it is pretty rare in kids, nevertheless it continues to be a symptom of leukemia in children. If a pediatrician checks this, it might be seen as a growing pain. But when it goes out of proportion, parents must get it checked for leukemia," he explained.
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4. Fits in kids
"In some cases, leukemia affects the brain. This is when children may experience fits and seizures. This could be accompanied by headache, vomiting, poor vision, weakness, difficulty in concentrating and problems maintaining balance," says Dr. Kharya.
5. Rashes and gum problems
Kids with AML may experience rashes and gum problems. The leukemia cells in this condition spread to the gums resulting in bleeding, pain, and swelling. It may even spread to the skin resulting dark spots and rashes. However, it may even be an allergic reaction. So check with an expert before making any conclusions.
6. Difficulty in breathing
Leukemia cells tend to accumulate in a gland named thymus which is present at the base of the neck. This may lead to difficulty in breathing. This could also happen due to enlarged lymph nodes. Children may deal with a cough and wheeze due to this. And if breathing hurts, it is a medical emergency.
7. Bleeding and bruising
Usually, when a child hurts him or herself, it may not result in excess bleeding as long as it is a minor injury. However, if a child is suffering from leukemia, minor injuries could also lead to excess bleeding. Kids may also develop red dots on the skin due to bleeding blood vessels.
"Enlargement of the liver and kidneys could also be a symptom. Besides this, children may show swelling in the neck region. This is because leukemia grows in the lymph nodes. Cancer leads to the enlargement of the small lymph nodes, which leads to swelling. The child may feel lethargic as well," Dr. Kharya concluded.
Keep in mind that most of these symptoms may not necessarily mean that your child has blood cancer. It could also be a symptom of allergies and any other minor health issue. So before you decide to land on conclusions, get your child diagnosed with this disease.
(Dr. Gaurav Kharya is a Senior Consultant and Head of the hemato-oncology and BMT at Artemis Hospital)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.