Signs, Symptoms and Treatments for Childhood Blood Cancer

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Dr. Haydar Frangoul, pediatric hematologist/ oncologist at TriStar Children’s Specialists

September is not only Blood Cancer Awareness Month but also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. As we wrap up this important month of awareness and education, be sure to educate yourself and your loved ones on the signs, symptoms and treatments for childhood blood cancer.

Leukemia is the most common type of blood cancer in children, adolescents and young adults. Lymphoma is also a blood cancer that can affect this patient population.

  • Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and affects red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a part of the body’s immune system.

Leukemia can be acute or chronic. Most cases of pediatric leukemia are acute, meaning that they tend to be aggressive. Common types of childhood leukemia include acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), or a hybrid lineage leukemia, which has features of ALL and AML.  The most common type of chronic leukemia in children is called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Common signs and symptoms for any of these types of blood cancers in children include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Pain

If there is any reason to believe your child has a type of blood cancer, your doctor may perform blood tests or send you to the Emergency Department.  Your doctor will connect you with a blood cancer specialist for diagnosis and treatment.

Childhood blood cancers are treated with chemotherapy. Some patients may require radiation therapy or targeted drug therapy. A stem cell transplant/bone marrow transplant may be considered.

“Pediatric blood cancers continue to have significant treatment advances. New options for targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy are available. For patients living in Middle Tennessee, clinical trials through both Children’s Oncology Group and Sarah Cannon may be available and appropriate for your child at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial,” states Dr. Haydar Frangoul, pediatric hematologist/oncologist at TriStar Children’s Specialists.

Treatment for pediatric cancer can be difficult both physically and emotionally for the patient and the entire family. Sharing your child’s journey with your circle of support can help with the cancer journey and allow you to focus on your child’s health. Your Sarah Cannon nurse navigator and social workers will also help connect you to resources during your child’s cancer journey.

If you have questions about childhood cancer, you can talk to a nurse through askSARAH.

To learn more about childhood blood cancers, visit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website here.

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