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5 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Signs and symptoms of childhood cancer

about health.com
Signs and symptoms of childhood cancer

Lisa Fayed & Diane Moore

Childhood cancer is rare. The signs and symptoms of childhood cancer can be vague and mimic that of other illnesses, so an evaluation by a doctor is essential. The chance of a child developing cancer is 1 in 330.

Childhood cancer symptoms

Nausea that is persistent

Vomiting with or without nausea

Unexplained persistent fever, or reoccurring fevers

Unexplained weightloss

Frequent headaches, may be combined with vomiting, especially in the morning

Fatigue

Paleness

Sudden eye or vision changes that are persistent

Excessive bruising or bleeding

Swelling or pain in the joints, bones, pelvis, back , or legs

Lump in the armpit, leg, chest, stomach or pelvis

If you child is experiencing any of the symptoms for childhood cancer, please see a pediatrician. Keep in mind that the term "childhood cancer" includes children up to age 19, so it's not just smaller children that can be affected.

Diagnosing a child with cancer

Understand the signs, symptoms and tests

Cancer in children can be easily overlooked because the signs and symptoms are either hard to recognize or can mimic other common childhood illnesses or injuries.

It is important to be a strong advocate and be persistent with your child’s physician if you feel that something is not right. You should also be sure that your children have their well baby check ups or routine physicals.

Be sure to watch for symptoms that do not go away, and bring them to the attention of your child’s pediatrician.  These may include, but are not limited to:

Initial testing

If your child’s physician suspects that your child may have cancer, she will likely send your child for further tests. These tests may include: blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CAT Scans (a special type of X-ray taken with computers).

 You should be diligent about having these tests done in a timely manner and follow any instructions that your child’s doctor provides for you. After the tests have been completed, your child’s physician may want you to consult with a specialist. He or she may ask that you take your child and the tests that you had performed to another clinic or to the hospital.

Consulting with a specialist

Your doctor may suggest that you take your child to see an oncologist, a surgeon, a neurologist or other specialist depending on the outcome of the tests. You may even be scheduled to see multiple specialists during one trip. Your visit will likely include additional tests.

Biopsy – when a small piece of tissue or fluid is removed from the child’s body and sent to a laboratory so that it can be thoroughly examined for cancer cells. A biopsy can be done through a needle or through surgery depending on the situation.

Bone marrow aspirate and biopsy – in this test, a needle is placed in a bone (typically the child’s hip bone) and a small amount of fluid is removed. The fluid is examined is sent to the laboratory to determine if there are cancer cells, and to determine the type of cancer cells.

Spinal tap (also known as Lumbar Puncture) – this test determines if there are cancer cells in the fluid that cushions the brain and spinal cord. This fluid, called cerebrospinal fluid, is removed through a fine needle from the child at the base of the spine between the vertebrae, and is then sent to a laboratory for testing.

Bone scan – Similar to an X-ray, but the child is injected with a small amount of radioactive isotope (a tracer) through a vein. This tracer travels to bones where there is tumor activity or bones that are not normal. Since the child has to stay very still for this procedure, children are often sedated, especially if very young.

PET scan – Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans show tumor activity and inflammation in the body.  Similar to the Bone Scan, the child is injected with a small amount of radioactive isotope (a tracer) through a vein for this procedure, and they have to remain very still.

The PET scan detects the metabolic activity of masses in the body, so it is often used as a baseline evaluation for cancers.

For example, in Osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), after the cancer is treated successfully, a mass may still remain, but a PET scan would no longer show metabolic activity associated with the cancer cells—indicating that the cancer was successfully treated. Any other type of diagnostic imaging may be able to reveal the mass, but it may not confirm the absence of cancer cells in the mass after treatment.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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