International Childhood Cancer Day: Know The Early Symptoms Of Leukemia In Children
International Childhood Cancer Day 2021: Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that affects a large number of children worldwide. Read here to know more about this type of cancer.
International Childhood Cancer Day: Leukaemia is the most common type of cancer in children
- International Childhood Cancer Day is observed on 15 February
- Leukaemia is the most common type of cancer affecting children worldwide
- In some cases there can be an absence of symptoms in children
Leukaemia is the most common cancer seen in children with 1/3 to almost half of children with cancer in India having leukemia. Children can get leukaemia at any age and they have usually been unwell for a few days 2 weeks when the diagnosis is made. The symptoms of leukaemia can often be non-specific like fever, tiredness, pallor, skin rash including bleeding spots in the skin, swelling of the glands in the neck and more. Sometimes the child may have no symptoms and leukaemia is diagnosed on an incidental blood test.
International Childhood Cancer Day 2021: All you need to know about leukaemia in children
When leukaemia is suspected it is important that the diagnosis be established quickly and correctly. The child would need a bone marrow test which would confirm the diagnosis of leukaemia as well as the type of leukaemia. Leukaemia in children most commonly is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children and occasionally acute myeloid leukemia. The treatment for both of these is chemotherapy which is in the form of injectable and oral medicines. There is no role of surgery and minimal role of radiotherapy.
Treatment of childhood leukaemia is now done on standard national and international protocols which ensures that the child gets the most appropriate treatment giving them the best chance of cure with the least amount of side effects. Common side effects include tiredness, need for blood transfusion, vomiting and risk of infection. All of these side effects can be managed to provide the child uninterrupted treatment.
It is important that the child finishes the complete treatment to stand the best chance of cure. With this 80 to 90% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia can be cured and 50-60% of children with acute myeloid leukemia can be cured. In most cases there is no rule of bone marrow transplant for the treatment of a newly diagnosed child with leukaemia.
Finally, it is important to recognise that the diagnosis and treatment of leukaemia has a significant impact on the child and on the family. So, it is important to also provide psychological and social support to the family besides the medical treatment to ensure that they remain compliant with treatment and achieve good outcomes.
(Dr. Ramandeep Singh Arora is Principal Consultant, Paediatric Oncology at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket)
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