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Leukemia in children and its symptoms

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, the spongy center of the bones that makes blood cells. In leukemia, abnormal white blood cells divide out of control and crowd out the normal cells in the bloodstream. The abnormal white blood cells are not mature, and therefore cannot carry out their infection-fighting function in the blood.

Leukemia in children

Leukemia affects children too, and the number of child leukemia cases keeps increasing.
There are two types of leukemia – acute leukemia – a cancer that develops and evolves very fast and it affects all the white blood cells, and chronic leukemia – it develops slower and healthy white blood cells can still be found. More than 95% of the child leukemia cases are acute leukemia.
Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Leukemia
– Infection : A child with leukemia may develop an infection that doesn’t respond to antibiotics, have a high fever, and become very sick.
– Easy bleeding or bruising : A child with leukemia may bruise easily or have increased bleeding from small cuts and nosebleeds.
– Bone pain : This is due to accumulation of the leukemia cells underneath the covering of the surface of the bone or inside the joint.
– Swelling of the abdomen : Leukemia often causes enlargement of the liver and spleen.
– Swollen lymph nodes : Swelling of lymph nodes inside the chest or abdomen may also occur. These are sometimes detected only by imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans.
– Enlargement of the thymus : Enlargement of the thymus or of lymph nodes inside the chest can compress the nearby trachea (windpipe). This can lead to coughing, shortness of breath, or even suffocation.
– Headache, seizures, vomiting: Leukemia cells can spread outside the bone marrow. This is called “extramedullary spread.” It may involve the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the testicles, ovaries, kidneys, lungs, heart, intestines, or other organs.

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