3 Important Symptoms of Childhood Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells.

These blood cells and platelets are produced within the bone marrow. When a child is suffering from leukemia, white blood cells may not be able to form properly and stay immature. These immature cells then continue to reproduce rapidly, pushing out the healthy, fully grown white blood cells and producing a variety of symptoms. Leukemia is the most common form of pediatric cancer affecting around 4,000 children in the United States every year, meaning it accounts for around one of three pediatric cancer diagnoses.

Bleeding and Bruising

A child with leukemia is more likely to gain bruising from minor injuries in which they would normally tend not to bruise from or bruises may appear from practically nowhere at all. Small cuts will also produce bleeding that would not normally occur to such a level. You may notice small purple, red or brown spots on their skin called petechiae. This is all caused by leukemia, as the blood can only clot when there are enough healthy blood platelets; in a child with leukemia, they will show a low platelet count when having blood tests.


Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped glands throughout the body that filter the blood. Leukemia cells may collect in the lymph nodes such as the neck, armpits, groin, or above the collarbone. This will cause swelling to any of these areas, swelling that is visible from the outside of the body. There are other lymph nodes that may be swollen such as in the abdomen or inside of the chest; these can be picked up with a CT or MRI scan.


The red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body. As the leukemic cells continue to reproduce, there is less room for other cells to reproduce and travel around the body. This can lead to the child becoming anemic. Symptoms of anemia include lightheadedness, a constant feeling of being tired, pale skin and rapid breathing as your body tries to gain more oxygen. If there is reduced oxygen to the brain, the child may also slur their words. A blood test can check the number of red blood cells within the blood and any abnormalities.

Outlook For Childhood Leukemia

Early diagnosis and quick intervention can improve outcome significantly and with research constantly carried out by the PCRF charity to stomp out pediatric cancers, survival rates will continue to rise. Leukemia is constantly being tested and improvements in treatments are being made so children being diagnosed with leukemia today have a much better outlook.

If your child has any of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have leukemia. It is always best to go get checked out if your child isn’t feeling themselves. Parents have a natural instinct and know better than anyone when their child isn’t their usual self – always trust it. It is always better to be safe, as the earlier we can catch leukemia, the best chance we have against it.

Thanks to Carol Trehearn

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