Leukemia in children is a cancer of white blood cells that occurs due to disorders in the spinal cord, to inhibit the body’s ability to fight infections.
Leukemia in children is the type of cancer most commonly suffered by children. You may be more familiar with the term blood cancer.
Abnormal white blood cells form in the bone marrow. These cells then spread in the bloodstream and surround healthy cells, and increase the risk of infection and other health problems.
Although it may seem creepy to hear the word leukemia in children, most children and adolescents who have leukemia can be treated.
If the treatment goes well, the rate of leukemia recovery in children is quite high, which is 90 percent.
Leukemia In Children Types
Almost all types of leukemia are acute and tend to be chronic because the growth factors of cancer cells themselves develop very rapidly.
The type of leukemia that generally affects children and adolescents is acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), but it does not close the possibility that older persons can also get hit.
However, acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in older persons tends to be difficult to cure because it is overactive and spreads more quickly, leading to risk of death.
Here are 4 types of leukemia that usually affect children:
#1. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
In acute lymphocytic leukemia, it is known that there are specific types of white blood cells or too many lymphocytes in the body.
#2. Acute Myeloid Leukemia
As for acute myeloid leukemia, it is more commonly found in older persons. But there are also those which attack children, due to the presence of excess myeloblast.
#3. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Then chronic myeloid leukemia, most caused by most granulocyte which is a type of white blood cell. Usually due to a gene mutation called the Philadelphia chromosome.
#4. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Then this chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a condition with excess lymphocytes or white blood cells similar to acute lymphocytic.
Leukemia child causes and Risk Factors
The cause of leukemia in children is not known for certain. But most cases occur due to genetic mutations.
Gene mutations also generally appear spontaneously and are not influenced by heredity. This means that leukemia in children can occur even if their parents and siblings do not have the same cancer.
Children who are more susceptible to leukemia if they experience the following conditions:
- Have identical twins with leukemia at a young age.
- Having twins is not identical or siblings who suffer from leukemia.
- Have undergone radiation therapy or chemotherapy for other types of cancer.
- Undergoing treatment that suppresses the immune system after an organ transplant.
- Experiencing health problems caused by genetic mutations, such as Down syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, neurofibromatosis, telangiectasia ataxia, and Fanconi anemia.
- Live in locations high in radiation and chemical exposure.
Leukemia child diagnosis
Diagnosis is performed by a doctor by collecting a thorough medical history and physical examination. This test will be used to diagnose leukemia in children and classify its type. The initial tests for leukemia in children are:
- Blood tests to measure blood cell count and see how it appears
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsies, usually taken from the pelvic bone, to ensure diagnosis of leukemia
- Lumbar puncture or spinal tap, to check the spread of leukemia cells in the fluid that wets the brain and spinal cord.
The pathologist will examine the cells from the blood test using a microscope, and examine bone marrow samples for the number of blood-forming cells and fat cells.
Other tests can also be performed to help determine what type of leukemia your child may have. Some of these tests can also help doctors figure out how much leukemia responds to treatment. Certain tests may be repeated at a later date to see how the child responds to treatment.
Leukemia in child treatment
Before cancer treatment begins, sometimes a child needs treatment to overcome complications of the disease. For example, changes in blood cells can cause severe infection or bleeding and can affect the amount of oxygen that reaches the body’s tissues. Treatment may involve antibiotics, blood transfusions, or other measures to fight infection.
Therapy for children suffering from leukemia is generally chemotherapy. There is also high-energy radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Another option if the therapy is less effective is by planting or transplanting blood-forming stem cells. To prevent the leukemia from returning, there may be maintenance therapy in the cycle for 2 or 3 years.
The American Cancer Society states that blood cancer in children is a type of cancer that is likely to be cured and minimal risk of growing again.