What are the Symptoms of Leukemia in Children?

The first thing to know about cancers that occur in children is that all childhood cancers are rare. The most common type of cancer found in children is leukemia, which begins in early blood-forming cells that develop in the bone marrow. Leukemia is primarily a cancer of the white blood cells, but there are a few leukemias that begin in other types of blood cells.

The most common type of leukemia is acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), which accounts for three out of four leukemias found in children and teenagers. ALL is usually diagnosed when children are toddlers, between the ages of 2 and 4.

Symptoms of leukemia in toddlers:

  • Bruising easily or bleeding
  • Tiredness, weakness or fatigue
  • Fever, night sweats or feeling cold
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Stomach, bone or joint pain
  • Pain below the ribs
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms of leukemia in toddlers include lumps in the neck, underarms, stomach or groin, and swelling of the liver or spleen.

What is the Childhood Leukemia Survival Rate?

Childhood leukemia statistics are not meant to alarm or worry parents or family members with a toddler who has been diagnosed with leukemia. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is 85 percent. Children under the age of 1 and over the age of 10 are considered high-risk patients. Children between these ages --including toddlers--who are diagnosed with B-cell (also called B lymphocytes) acute lymphocytic leukemia have better outcomes than other age groups.

What causes Leukemia in Toddlers?

According to the American Cancer Society, the exact cause of leukemia in children and toddlers is unknown. Cancers that occur in adults and children are different. Unlike some cancers in adults that are related to environmental or lifestyle factors, childhood cancers usually occur due to DNA changes or mutations in cells.

Scientists have determined that certain DNA changes inside normal, healthy bone marrow cells can cause them to become leukemia cells. A chromosome translocation, in which the DNA from one chromosome breaks off and attaches itself to a different chromosome, is one common DNA change that leads to leukemia.

Are there any Childhood Leukemia Treatment Centers in Denver?

Children, parents and families in the Greater Denver area have multiple options for treatment of cancers that occur in infants, toddlers, school-age children and teenagers. If you are concerned about childhood cancers or want to learn more about the different types of childhood leukemia, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about any questions you may have. Typically, a pediatrician will refer a child to a pediatric oncologist if they exhibit any signs or symptoms of leukemia.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) is devoted to providing quality care and treatment for cancers that occur in children, including leukemia found in toddlers. Our large team of pediatric oncologists, surgeons, physician assistants, nurses and counselors are dedicated to ensuring that every toddler or child cancer patient undergoing treatment receives individual, specialized care and attention. Patients and their families choose RMHC because our pediatric cancer clinic offers a warm and supportive environment, designed with children and adolescents in mind.