Leukemia develops when main cells in the bone marrow reproduce uncontrollably therefore ruin normal functions of all organs and tissues especially in this region. Prevalence of leukemia is increasing day by day. Malnutrition, air pollution, mobile phones, electromagnetic waves and viral diseases play an active role in the spread of the disease. However, new methods of treatment increase patient comfort and chances of recovery. Individual and social awareness about this issue have also great importance. For stem cell transplantation, which means hope for life for the patients, it may be enough for healthy people to become stem cell donors and give blood. Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Specialist from the of Dr. Prof.Dr. Atilla Tanyeli, who is specialist of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and from Memorial Şişli Hospital, Department of Pediatric Diseases, informed about 10 important symptoms of leukemia and warned the families.
Anemia: One of the first signs of leukemia is anemia. The child's color gradually decolorizes, and complaints of weakness are among the first signs of anemia. Anemia develops with a decrease in red blood cells in the bone marrow. Between the ages of six months and one year after birth, physiological anemia can be experienced, but anemia should never be considered a normal condition and a physician should definitely be consulted. There are certain hemoglobin values for each age group, and the fact that they are below these values should always be considered abnormal. Iron deficiency in society causes anemia mostly. Leukemia is also often not noticeable for this reason. The number of leukemia patients lately diagnosed due to iron deficiency therapy is substantial. For this reason, it is necessary that children who have anemia that do not respond to the treatment should be examined well.
Fever: Persistent high fever is observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Cause of fever in leukemia is infection that develops when white cells, immune system of a normal body in bone marrow, reduces after suppressed due to infiltration of bone marrow by leukemic cells. Cause of fever cannot be detected most of time in the children who appeal to hospital due to nearly 37-38 or 39-40 fever. If the patient has a lung, ear, or upper respiratory tract infection during the same period, fever may be explained by them. But in the presence of leukemia, complaints of fever persist despite treatment. The patients, who have fever complaint that has been present for more than 2 weeks and its cause could not be found, should be necessarily examined in terms of malignant disease.
Exhaustion: As a continuation of anemia, weakness is observed. As a general condition of the disease, since metabolism of children is also disrupted, there may be loss of appetite and weakness. Weakness binds the child to the bed, and the patient does not want to get out of bed.
Weight loss: Weight loss develops due to lack of appetite. Cause of weight loss: It is because of cytokines released from leukemic cells affect appetite center and cause lack of appetite. If the child has lost more than 10 percent of his weight in the last 6 months, he/she should definitely be examined.
Bruises on the body: Children are extremely mobile. Sometimes he/she can carelessly hit his/her hand or foot to solid place, and this can lead to the formation of bruises on the body. Bruises on the body are more common especially in the period of 2-5 years. You should be careful in case that there are bruises, that are persistent, and that have been present for a long time, and that are in especially regions where the child could not hit, and that occur in the back and neck regions. Bruises are caused by suppression of main cells of platelets due to the involvement of the bone marrow by leukemic cells. As long as the disease continues, bruises continue to form in different parts of the body within a few days.
Bone pain: Children may have pain in all parts of their bodies, such as arms, legs, hip bones. That is why it is often confused with rheumatism disease. Patients who have been mistakenly treated for rheumatism for a long time and then diagnosed with leukemia are not few. In case of prolonged joint pain, a blood test should be performed, and the presence of leukemia should be questioned. Tests should never be neglected if there are especially anemia and weight loss that accompany bone pain. Even if the small children do not state their pain complaints, the families should be careful if children limp or hobble or could not step in painful area or wake up crying when they sleeps on this side.
Hemorrhages: Hemorrhages should definitely be taken care of. A child who goes to bed at night without any complaint may wake up with severe bleeding in the morning especially if he/she has AML. There may be bleeding from the throat and accumulating in the mouth. Sometimes, there may be less signs of bleeding. You should pay attention to nose bleeding, bleeding in the stool, black stools, and gingival bleeding. In addition, there may be sudden bleeding in the gingiva, but also it can also become much more severe during brushing your teeth.
Glands: There are lymph nodes in almost every area of the body. In all children with leukemia, glands everywhere including cervical, armpit, inguinal regions can grow. When the glands in the abdomen grow, they can cause abdominal pain. Mediastinal hemorrhages can cause shortness of breath.
Hepatomegaly: In hepatomegaly, there is swelling in abdominal area. Normally, when the child is examined, swelling liver or spleen under his/her ribs may be palpated. This swelling can be especially noticeable while the child is sleeping or taking a bath. In addition, when the liver becomes too large, it can lead to abdominal pain complaints.
Splenomegaly: If a mass is palpated on the left side of the body, size of the spleen should come to mind first. In the type of leukemia called CML, the spleen grows too much. This, in turn, leads to a serious complaint of pain in this area.
Prepared by the Medical Editorial Board. Our health library contents have been prepared for informational purposes only and with the scientific content on the registration date. For all your questions, concerns, diagnosis or treatment about your health, please consult your doctor or health institution.