LEUKEMIA IN CHILDREN

Of all the cancers that strike non-adults, leukemia in children is the most common and it’s relevant to point out that the types of cancers that children develop are not the same as those that occur in adults. Childhood cancers often behave differently, get treated differently and respond differently.

Leukemia Versus Normal Blood

Leukemia is the most common form of cancer that affects children today and typically starts in the bone marrow

When a parent is told that their child has been diagnosed with leukemia, their world is suddenly turned upside down. This heartbreaking news means lengthy hospital treatment and an uncertain future for the entire family.

When medical science and hope work together, the results can be astonishing. Helping with the hope portion of fighting a life-threatening medical condition is the non-profit Make A Wish Foundation, known the world over for its ability to give these children something wonderful to look forward to. Granting a child his wish, no matter what that entails, is an emotional boost that gives hope, strength and joy. Truly powerful healers!

WHAT IS CANCER?

  • Normal body cells have a life cycle in which they grow, divide and die at a normal rate.

  • Until a child reaches adulthood, these normal cells will grow more rapidly, After that, cells will typically divide to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.
  • Cancer cells are abnormal cells that grow and divide but instead of dying, they outlive normal ones and continue this uncontrolled growth pattern.
  • Not all cancers form tumors and not all tumors are cancerous.
  • Other cancers, like leukemia in children and in adults, involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow.


CHILDHOOD CANCERS

  • Childhood cancers are mostly those of the white blood cells (leukemia), brain, bone and lymphatic system but can also develop in the muscles, kidneys and nervous system.

  • Generally, these cancers respond better to chemotherapy and children tend to tolerate this particular treatment better than adults.


WHAT IS LEUKEMIA?

  • It is a cancer of the early blood-forming cells and usually affects the white blood cells.

  • This type of cancer starts in the bone marrow and then spreads to the blood where it can affect other parts of the body.
  • Bone marrow, which is the innermost part of bones, is where red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are produced.
  • When large numbers of abnormal white blood cells are produced they flood the bloodstream but cannot perform their proper role of protecting the body against disease because they are defective.
Leukemia in children like Lola is a fight that can be won
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Lola spent nine months in isolation battling leukemia and looking forward to her Disneyland wish trip

LEUKEMIA IN CHILDREN

  • In infants, active bone marrow is found in almost all of the bones in the body.

  • In teenagers, it is found most in flat bones, such as the skull, shoulder blade and pelvis as well as the vertebrae.
  • It can either be acute (fast growing) or chronic (slow growing). Most forms of leukemia in children are acute, and there are two types. Complex testing determines which type so that the most appropriate treatment is given.
  • This illness is the most common form of childhood cancer and accounts for approximately one-third of all cancers in children under the age of 15 and one-quarter of those that occur before the age of 20.


RISKS, CAUSES, PREVENTION



Young leukemia patient gives the thumbs up

This brave little girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia shows her fighting spirit

  • There are certain genetic diseases that a parent can pass on to a child that may increase that child’s risk of developing leukemia. One of these is Down syndrome.

  • Exposure of a fetus or child (and, of course, any adult) to environmental radiation and certain chemicals as well as receiving radiation therapy and chemotherapy for other cancers are also risk factors.
  • Exact causes are not yet known but continuing research is providing a better understanding so that prevention can be successfully applied.

DETECTION AND DIAGNOSIS

  • Although there are no special tests for early detection of leukemia in children, close observation is important especially if the child is known to have an increased risk of developing this type of cancer.

  • Leukemia symptoms include excessive tiredness, pale skin, infection with a high fever that doesn’t improve, easy bruising or bleeding, swelling of the abdomen or lymph nodes, bone or joint pain and enlargement of the thymus gland.

  • An accurate diagnosis first requires examining the child’s blood counts to detect any abnormalities. It may then be necessary to take a sample of bone marrow and a small piece of bone (usually taken from the hip bone) for analysis.


ADAPTING TO A DIFFERENT FUTURE AHEAD

  • Maintaining an optimistic outlook by remembering that most childhood leukemias have high remission rates.

  • Watching for side effects from chemotherapy and potential health problems down the line.

  • Fulfilling the emotional needs of the child and helping parents deal with the diverse challenges they face caring for a sick child.
  • Creating a supportive teaching and social environment in the event a child displays learning difficulties and diminished interacting skills brought on by the medical treatment.
  • Doing what it takes so a child can reach his or her potential and be an example of determination and courage to other children facing an uncertain future.

MORE TOPICS

In the coming months we will be adding pages to showcase more topics related to children with a life-threatening medical condition. For now we invite you to follow Celebrities Make Wishes Come True For Make A Wish Kids and see what famous people as diverse as Jessica Simpson, John Cena, Bethany Hamilton and Donald Trump are doing to give joy and hope to so many sick kids. Please click to view.

To read about other highly informative topics directly related to the goals of Make A Wish Foundation and how wish granting began, please click on the links below.

OUR GIFT CATALOG

A great way for us to join forces and help Make A Wish Foundation carry on their work is to acquire a unique, handcrafted glass pendant from our collection of Gift Ideas For Her. Please click on the words Gift Catalog to view. We are proud to make them available to our visitors. Enjoy looking at them, giving them and wearing them!

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Our intention here is not to favor one company over another when it comes to cord blood banking, but simply provide a resource so that our visitors/readers can do further research to decide what is best for them.

Since a baby’s cord blood, the blood that remains in the vein of the umbilical cord and placenta at the time of birth, is rich in stem cells, it can be stored in a frozen state and used at a future time to treat nearly 80 diseases.

Stem cell treatments and transplants can be highly successfully in life-threatening conditions such as lymphoma and leukemia and inherited metabolic disorders. You can learn more about this technology at http://www.cryo-cell.com.