Leukemia is defined as the most common type of cancer in children. Although the fever does not go away, fatigue and skin blemishes are the most obvious symptoms of the disease in children despite the use of drugs, early diagnosis and proper treatment plan play an important role in the fight against leukemia. Professor of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Memorial Sicily / Atashehir Hospital. Dr. Betul Tavil provided information on leukemia and its treatment due to “World Week of Children with Leukemia”.
Leukemia is derived from a combination of the Greek words “leukos” meaning “white” and “haima” meaning “blood” and is used to name the disease. This is known as blood cancer. When evaluated in terms of incidence of childhood cancer, leukemia ranks first. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is more common in most childhood leukemia than in adults. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common childhood leukemia, accounting for 80% of childhood leukemia. The incidence of ALL increases, especially between the ages of 2-5 years. More common in boys than in all girls.
Care should be taken during pregnancy
In the vast majority of children, there is no risk factor that could explain the development of leukemia. However, in some cases, hereditary and environmental risk factors can be identified. When the baby is in the womb, exposure to toxic substances such as alcohol, pesticides, benzene, certain foods, viral infections and radiation exposure can cause leukemia. Various chromosomal abnormalities prone to leukemia. For example, Down syndrome (trisomy 21) increases the susceptibility of children to leukemia. In addition to genetic factors, environmental factors are also important in the development of leukemia. Environmental risk factors include ionizing radiation, certain drugs, petroleum products, organic substances such as benzene, herbicides and pesticides.
Pay attention to these symptoms
The symptoms of leukemia can be listed as follows:
- Fever or cold that does not go away after taking the medicine
- Constant fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or sores
- Bleeding from the nose and gums, lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, swelling of the abdomen, swelling of the gums
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
The initial symptoms of acute leukemia may be short-lived and variable. Patients often have symptoms such as loss of appetite, weakness, fatigue, occasional fever, bone pain, and paleness. As the disease progresses, symptoms of bone marrow failure and bone pain become apparent. Outcomes of the central nervous system include enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged liver and spleen, enlarged testicles, shortness of breath, headache and vomiting. Physical examination, paleness, weakness, skin rash that does not fade under pressure, skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, bone or joint pain are common. May cause shortness of breath. In some patients, central nervous system outcomes may be observed in the diagnosis. In some patients, kidney failure, osteoporosis and cardiac involvement may be involved.
Bone marrow examination is very important
Outcomes of bone marrow failure (anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia or leukocytosis) and peripheral blood outcomes suggest leukemia. The patient’s clinical picture and laboratory test results should be carefully evaluated. If leukemia is suspected, the bone marrow should be examined first. Bone marrow aspiration is the most valuable method for diagnosing leukemia. AML is diagnosed when more than 30 percent of the cancer cells called lymphoblasts are found in the bone marrow and ALL and more than 20 percent of the cancer cells are called myeloblasts.
Bone marrow transplantation saves lives
Leukemia is a disease that must be treated. When leukemia symptoms appear in children, a specialist in hematology and oncology and a fully equipped hospital should be consulted without wasting time. In recent years, the quality of life and duration of leukemia patients have increased due to modern treatment methods. In particular, bone marrow transplantation is a life-saving treatment option for some patients. Children with bone marrow transplants can grow and develop in a healthier way than their peers.