Symptoms of Childhood Leukemia


Although childhood leukemia can mean more than one disease, for the sake of clarity in this entry it will refer to childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer.

Symptoms of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

When a child has ALL, they are more likely to develop infections and they are likely to bleed easier. Symptoms that could indicate a diagnosis of ALL include:

  • Bone pain, joint pain
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paleness
  • Pain below the ribs
  • Visible petechiae (pinpoint red spots) on the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin
  • Night sweats

It is important to understand that these are what are known as non-specific symptoms. This means that these symptoms could indicate acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or they could indicate a host of other health issues.

Since this is the case, it is extremely important that a child with these symptoms see a physician as soon as possible for a clinical evaluation, since only a doctor is qualified to interpret these symptoms.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, some exams and tests will need to be performed, including a complete blood count, a platelet count, and if ALL is suspected, then a bone marrow biopsy and a lumbar puncture. A chest X-ray may be necessary as well.

The important thing is to not ignore these symptoms; rather, seek a consultation with a qualified pediatric physician as soon as possible.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a serious disease but it is also highly treatable and curable with chemotherapy.

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