Leukemia, which constitutes 30 percent of cancer cases in childhood, is more common especially in children under the age of 5. Among the most important symptoms of leukemia, also known as blood cancer; weakness, weight loss, bone pain, fever and bruises on the body. As a result of the treatment to be applied in leukemia, where early diagnosis is of great importance, the quality and duration of life of patients increases. Professor from Memorial Ankara Hospital Pediatric Oncology and Pediatric Hematology Department. Dr. Ahmet Demir gave information about leukemia in children and its treatment during the 2-8 November Children with Leukemia Week.
Leukemia, also known as blood cancer in the community, is a disease that occurs with the uncontrolled and abnormal proliferation of some of the cells in the bone marrow. It accounts for about 30 percent of all childhood cancers. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia constitutes 4/3 of the leukemias and acute myeloblastic leukemia constitutes the remainder. It is seen in 15-100 of every 3 thousand children under the age of 4. Although it is more common in men, it occurs at any age, especially under 5 years of age.
Observe your child well
As a result of leukemic cells attacking the bone marrow in leukemia, signs and symptoms occur due to the decrease in red cells, white cells (leukocytes) and platelets produced in the bone marrow. The symptoms of leukemia are as follows:
-Due to the low number of red cells, the patient may experience pallor, weakness, exhaustion, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight gain and weight loss.
Bone pain may occur due to overworking of the bone marrow to tolerate anemia.
– As a result of the decrease in the number of leukocytes, fever, general weakness, widespread painful sores on the oral mucosa and tonsils may occur.
Gingival bleeding, nosebleeds, petechiae, purpura and ecchymoses (bruises) can be seen due to low platelet count.
– Considering that the most common age of development of leukemia is under 5 years old, it can be considered normal to have bruises in the lower knee area since they are playboys. However, it should be evaluated together with other signs and symptoms. The presence of bruises on unexpected body parts should be investigated. Non-leukemia causes should also be kept in mind.
In some cases, lymph node enlargements can be seen in the neck, armpits, and groin.
Another important finding is abdominal distension. This swelling may be due to the size of the liver and spleen, as well as due to the fluid accumulated in the abdomen.
- Neurological signs and symptoms and sudden vision problems may also be due to leukemia.
Genetic factors play a large role in the disease
While genetic factors are often more important among the risk factors for leukemia, exposure to radiation, benzene, pesticides, hydrocarbons, maternal alcohol use during pregnancy, maternal smoking before and during pregnancy, and the presence of certain genetic diseases in the child can be listed as other most important risk factors.
Treatment success is very high
Chemotherapy consisting of multiple drugs is the main axis of treatment in leukemia. Depending on the characteristics of the case, local radiotherapy to the central nervous system or some other areas may be required. In order to prevent disease in the brain, the application of chemotherapy drugs to the brain fluid region is also among the main elements of the treatment. Although it varies according to risk groups, overall survival in leukemia patients is over 90 percent.
Early diagnosis of the disease is important in patients with leukemia, especially in the low-risk group. With early diagnosis, it becomes possible to achieve higher success with less intensive treatment. However, strict adherence to the treatment protocol is required in these patients. Infections, nutrition, hygiene, oral care, social life, education process and family care processes need to be paid attention.