Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer and typically occurs in children younger than 10. Many signs of leukemia in children can be due to other causes, but it’s important for the symptoms to be evaluated by a doctor if they occur frequently or do not seem to be improving. Early detection is key for an improved outcome.
Some of the early warning signs of leukemia in children include:
- Frequent flu-like symptoms
- Persistent bruises
- Lethargy and weakness
- Frequent infections
- Severe nosebleeds
- Feeling unusually cold
- Lack of appetite and/or weight loss
- Bone or joint pain
- Abdominal swelling
A parent whose child is experiencing one or more of these symptoms frequently should talk to a pediatrician about their concerns. The pediatrician will likely order a complete blood count (CBC) that can show if the child has abnormal numbers of red or white blood cells in their body. If so, seeing a pediatric oncologist for further testing is the typical next step.
Diagnosing leukemia in children
Leukemia is commonly diagnosed after a bone marrow biopsy, lymph node biopsy, lumbar puncture, X-ray, ultrasound or specialized lab test. If any of these tests confirm a leukemia diagnosis, the oncologist will then classify the leukemia. Most children diagnosed with leukemia are diagnosed with either acute lymphocytic leukemia or acute myelogenous leukemia. From there, the cancer will be classified into a subtype.
Leukemia treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center offers diagnosis and treatment for leukemia for teenagers and young adults. Our Malignant Hematology Program comprises various specialists, including hematologic oncologists, who work together to develop treatment plans that are tailored to our patients’ needs. And since we understand that cancer treatment is also an emotional journey, we offer supportive care services to help our patients and their families. Our Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Program helps patients manage the emotional toll of their treatment, connect with others who are also going through cancer treatment and more.