Don’t think of it as insignificant!
Childhood cancers are without doubt the worst nightmare for every parent… However what is important is that instead of making these a nightmare, we should detect the symptoms early. Because, treatment opportunity increases when the symptoms are detected and a diagnosis is determined at an early stage. The most important responsibility for early diagnosis primarily to the parents and then to the doctor whom the child regularly visits. Acıbadem Kozyatağı Hospital Pediatric Hematology Specialist Prof. Dr. Cengiz Canpolat has explained what the symptoms of childhood cancers are and what the parents need to pay attention to.
- Fever that lasts for longer than 2 weeks for an unknown reason
Children are active in general. But they can sometimes get exhausted. Definitely see a doctor if your child has exhaustion accompanied with anemia and if the fever lasts longer than 2 weeks and you can’t tell the origin of the fever. These symptoms can be the indicators of disease such as leukemia and lymphoma.
- If vomiting lasts longer than 7 days
Headache, nausea, vomiting and cases like convulsion can indicate brain tumor. Along with these, symptoms of balance and gait disorders and also facial paralysis are amongst the findings encountered in cases of brain tumor. If the vomiting is of unknown origin and it last longer than 7 days or the vomiting is accompanied with headache, the brain and the abdomen of the patient should be examined with computerized tomography.
- If constipation lasts longer than 1 month
If the patient has constipation and it lasted longer than 1 month and it is not responding to classical treatment the patient should have a computerized tomography scan of his/her abdomen and pelvis. The masses in the abdomen appear in forms of stomach aches, vomiting constipation and less frequently as intestinal obstruction. These children will usually have some swellings in the abdominal region even if they are small ones. The parents particularly need to pay attention to such a condition. Moreover the child has to have an examination with ultrasound if s/he is experiencing bloody urine.
- If there are purple spots above the knee level
The purple spots on the legs of the children occasionally give the parents worry. In case a purple spot has occurred on the leg regardless of a trauma, this might be a quite worry-worthy indication of a blood disease. And also, the intensity of the trauma has to be proportionate with the level of purple marks formed. Having great purple marks following a slight impact is also risky. Another issue the parent need to pay attention to is the place where the purple marks appear. The purple marks that appear below the knee have a high chance of occurring due to a trauma whereas the purple marks that appear above the knee level and particularly on tissues where there are no underlying bones are mostly due to diseases. Therefore the patients need to watch out and if necessary, keep track of the numbers and sizes of the purple marks. Parents usually fail to notice the purple marks that the quite dark skinned children have. The parents need to observe these conditions.
- If purple marks that are accompanied with nose and gingiva bleeding occur
The purple marks that are more than one and that are disproportionate with the severity of the impact and that are accompanied with nose and gingiva bleedings are conditions when one needs to be alerted.
- If swelling occurs in the lymph node
During viral infections, swellings can be observed on the lymph nodes that are in the neck of the child. But there are also lymph nodes in the axillary cavity and the groin regions. Growth of the local lymph nodes particularly outside the neck region pose a potential risk of cancer. If the lymph node is solid and there is no pain or sensitivity, if it is attached to the below tissues and not moving, it has a high risk that it is cancerous. The lymph node behind the ear, on the collarbones and in the inner face of the arm have a high chance of being of malignant nature.
- If there is leg pain
Although leg and joint pains are affiliated with activity pains or rheumatic children’s diseases, they may also be interconnected with leukemia. If the pain lasts more than 2 weeks and it recurs frequently, responds lightly to painkillers and if there is also limitation of movement it definitely needs be looked into.
Cancer symptoms show resemblance with the other childhood diseases!
Symptoms of the childhood cancers mostly show resemblance with the symptoms of the diseases which are considered to be normal in the childhood period. Therefore, the experience of the doctor who checks the child on a routine basis plays an important role in this regard. The most common type of cancer that occurs during the growth stage is acute leukemia. The acute leukemia that constitutes 20-30% of the childhood cancers mainly occur between the ages of 2 and 5. Apart from leukemia, central nervous system tumors are mostly encountered during the growth stages. Neuroblastoma which is a suprarenal gland tumor and Wilms tumor which is kidney tumor, soft tissue cancers and lymphomas except for Hodgkin respectively rank among the most frequent ones.