By: DR. AZIZUR RAHMAN
Leukemia is a type of cancer that can be life-threatening. Leukemia can cause serious symptoms not only in adults but also in children.
What is leukemia?
Leukaemia is another term for blood cancer. This condition begins with the growth of cancer cells in the bone marrow, then in the blood. As it is known, bone marrow is the part of the body that is responsible for making cells into blood components.
When a child has leukaemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells, usually white blood cells or leukocytes.
Under the same conditions, the bone marrow produces fewer healthy cells. These abnormal cells grow rapidly, so they can cause severe symptoms in children.
Leukaemia in children is divided into different types, namely:
1. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
According to NYU Langone Health, this type of leukemia affects about 80% of children with blood cancer. The bone marrow produces too many lymphoblasts, a type of ‘immature’ white blood cell.
These abnormal cells then affect the level of healthy leukocytes, increasing the risk of anaemia and reducing the body’s ability to fight infection.
2. Acute myeloblastic leukemia
This condition occurs when the bone marrow cannot produce myeloid, a type of cell that is a component of the blood. Myeloid is the precursor of one of the three components of blood, namely white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets.
In leukaemia, these cells divide rapidly, eliminating many healthy blood cells. Thus, the blood will lose its function in the circulatory system.
3. Chronic leukemia
Chronic leukaemia, also known as chronic leukaemia, is the rarest blood cancer. Its prevalence is about two percent of all cases. Most children with this condition have an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL.
The gene causes many healthy white blood cells to be destroyed, which increases the body’s risk of infection.
Causes of leukemia in children:
The exact cause of childhood leukaemia is not known. However, there are several things that can increase the risk of this condition, for example:
Gene changes or mutations
congenital disorders such as Down syndrome
History of exposure to high doses of radiation, chemotherapy, and chemicals
disorders of the immune system or immunity.
Symptoms of leukaemia in children
According to WebMD, leukaemia symptoms in children occur when the bone marrow begins to produce abnormal blood cells. Some of the symptoms that can be experienced include:
Infections that are difficult to cure
Easy bruising or bleeding
cough and shortness of breath
bone and joint pain
swelling in the face, armpits, arms, neck, stomach, or groyne
Loss of appetite leads to weight loss.
A rash appears on the skin.
Treatment of leukaemia in children
Before giving treatment, the doctor will perform tests to make a diagnosis, such as:
Blood tests to measure and determine the level or number of blood cells
A bone marrow biopsy, which involves taking a small bone in the pelvis to detect leukaemia,
Lumbar puncture, examination of cerebrospinal fluid samples to detect abnormalities, including the possibility of cancer
The doctor will modify the child’s blood cancer type for treatment. However, chemotherapy is still the most commonly used treatment. Therefore, treatment response is considered better in children than in adults.
Radiation therapy can also be used to treat leukaemia in children. This therapy works by targeting specific parts of cancer cells, killing them, and stopping them from spreading.
If the above treatments are deemed ineffective, blood-forming stem cell transplantation is the best option. This method is taken when the child has undergone radiation therapy and high-dose chemotherapy, but it does not give maximum results.
How to prevent?
Talking about the prevention of leukaemia in children, until now the right way to do this has not been found. It’s true, there are things moms can do to reduce the risk of leukaemia in their beloved baby.
According to a study, besides adopting a healthy lifestyle, the best thing that can be done is to prevent children from being exposed to carcinogenic substances. Cancer-causing substances are commonly found in cigarette smoke, chemicals, pesticides, and polluted air.
Well, this is a review of leukaemia in children and preventive measures that can be implemented. If your little one starts experiencing the symptoms described above, don’t think twice about going to the doctor right away!