Leukemia in Children
Hematology

Leukemia in Children

    Leukemia in Children

    Leukemia is a type of cancer that occurs when the bone marrow and blood cells grow and divide in a cancerous manner. Childhood leukemia is one of the most common types of cancer in children.

    The symptoms of leukemia in children usually include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, respiratory problems, swelling of lymph nodes, bruising, or a tendency to bleed. However, since these symptoms can also be seen in other illnesses, a doctor may need to perform blood tests and other medical examinations to make a diagnosis.

    The treatment for leukemia in children involves methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplantation. The success of the treatment can vary depending on the type of leukemia, the stage of the disease, the child's age, and their overall health.

    The treatment of a child diagnosed with leukemia can be a long and challenging process. However, with the advancement of modern medicine, the success rate of leukemia treatment has increased, and many children are able to overcome this disease. Psychological support, assistance, and counseling services are also available for children undergoing leukemia treatment and their families.

    Symptoms of Leukemia in Children

    The symptoms of childhood leukemia typically stem from conditions such as anemia and weakened immune system. Some common symptoms include:

    Fatigue and weakness

    Fever and infections

    Loss of appetite and weight loss

    Abdominal pain and bloating

    Bone pain and joint pain

    Respiratory problems and coughing

    Bruising, bleeding, or red spots on the skin

    Swelling or tenderness of lymph nodes

    These symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses, so if your child experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a doctor. Diagnosis may require blood tests, bone marrow biopsy, and other medical examinations. Early diagnosis and treatment can help your child in their battle against leukemia and facilitate recovery.

    Diagnosis of Leukemia in Children

    The diagnosis of leukemia in children can be made through a series of tests and medical imaging. Some diagnostic methods include:

    Physical examination: The doctor may examine your child's body for any swelling, enlarged lymph nodes, or other physical signs.

    Blood tests: Blood tests can detect the presence of leukemia cells or abnormalities in the bone marrow cells.

    Bone marrow biopsy: A bone marrow biopsy can help in diagnosing leukemia by examining the cells in the bone marrow under a microscope.

    Identification of leukemia cells: Bone marrow biopsy or blood tests can identify specific characteristics of leukemia cells. These characteristics help doctors determine the type of leukemia.

    Medical imaging: Medical imaging methods such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans can determine the extent of the disease.

    Since the symptoms of leukemia in children can resemble those of other illnesses, it is important to obtain a detailed medical history and conduct medical tests to make a diagnosis. If you suspect leukemia in your child, consulting a pediatric oncology specialist is the most appropriate option.

    Treatment of Leukemia in Children

    The treatment of childhood leukemia typically consists of a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplantation. The treatment plan may vary depending on the child's age, the type and stage of the disease, the spread of leukemia cells, and other factors. The goal of treatment is to kill leukemia cells and restore the normal function of bone marrow cells to allow for the regeneration of healthy blood cells.

    Chemotherapy is a drug treatment used to kill leukemia cells. Chemotherapy drugs are usually administered intravenously, but they can also be taken orally or through injections.

    Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill leukemia cells. This treatment is often used after chemotherapy.

    Bone marrow transplantation involves the replacement of the patient's own bone marrow cells or compatible donor bone marrow cells after high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This procedure allows for the regrowth of bone marrow cells and supports the reformation of normal blood cells.

    The treatment process can be lengthy and challenging, but many children achieve complete recovery with treatment. During the treatment process, it is important to follow the recommendations of the doctor, ensure that the child maintains a healthy diet and engages in regular exercise, avoids stress, and adheres to the treatment plan.

    What are the conditions that increase the risk of leukemia in children?

    There are several factors that may increase the risk of leukemia in children. These factors include:

    Genetic predisposition: Leukemia is more common in some families, indicating a role of genetic factors. Children with Down syndrome, in particular, have an increased risk of leukemia.

    Exposure to radiation: Exposure to radiation can increase the risk of leukemia. Children who have undergone radiation therapy, in particular, have a higher risk of developing leukemia.

    Chemical exposure: Certain chemicals, especially benzene, can increase the risk of leukemia in children.

    Immune system disorders: Children with immune system disorders are known to have an increased risk of leukemia.

    Other health conditions: Certain illnesses or treatments can increase the risk of leukemia in children.

    Secondhand smoke: Smoking by parents or caregivers can increase the child's risk of leukemia.

    Viral infections: Some viral infections, especially those occurring during childhood, can contribute to an increased risk of leukemia.

    These factors can increase the risk of leukemia, but they may not necessarily be the sole cause of leukemia development in any specific child. Families of children diagnosed with leukemia can gain knowledge about these risk factors to help their child lead a healthy lifestyle and provide support.

    What are the types of leukemia in children?

    There are two main types of leukemia in children: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). These two types of leukemia differ based on which type of blood cell line is affected.

    Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

    This is the most common type of leukemia in children and arises from the abnormal growth of cells called lymphoblasts. ALL is generally more prevalent in children and has two subtypes: B-cell ALL and T-cell ALL. B-cell ALL is more commonly seen.

    Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

     This accounts for approximately 20% of childhood leukemias and originates from the abnormal growth of myeloid cells. While less common, AML can be more aggressive than ALL.

    Both types of leukemia have different symptoms and treatment approaches, and the diagnosis and treatment plan can vary depending on the type of leukemia. Accurate identification of the leukemia type is an important step in determining the appropriate treatment plan.

    What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)?

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia in children. ALL occurs when immature lymphocyte cells called lymphoblasts grow and multiply abnormally. These cells are produced in the bone marrow and proliferate abnormally in the bone marrow. This condition disrupts the production of normal blood cells.

    ALL is typically seen in children between the ages of 2 and 5, but it can also occur in older children and even some adults. ALL is characterized by various symptoms including fever, fatigue, weakness, bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, and enlargement of the liver or spleen.

    Treatment for ALL may involve various methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplantation. Treatment success depends on factors such as age, overall health, and the extent of the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of recovery from ALL.

    Treatment Methods for Leukemia in Children?

    The treatment methods used for leukemia in children depend on the type and stage of the disease. Leukemia treatment typically involves a combination of different approaches, and multiple treatment methods are often used together in most children. The treatments may include:

    Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the most commonly used method in leukemia treatment. It consists of drugs used to destroy cancer cells. The drugs are usually taken orally or administered intravenously.

    Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

    Bone Marrow Transplantation: Bone marrow transplantation is used in more advanced stages of leukemia treatment. This procedure involves replacing the patient's bone marrow cells, either entirely or partially, with healthy donor bone marrow cells.

    Biological Therapy: Biological therapy involves the use of certain drugs to halt the growth of leukemia cells. This treatment works by stimulating the immune system to fight against leukemia cells.

    Leukemia treatment can vary based on the response to treatment and the type of disease. Treatment often lasts for several years, and children are regularly monitored by their doctors and families throughout the treatment process.

    The content of the page is for informational purposes only, please consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

    About the Author

    Medical Editorial Board

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    Approved by on 11.05.2023

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    Aynur UğurBİLGİN
    Hematology

    Prof. M.D.

    Aynur Uğur BİLGİN

    Koru Ankara Hospital