HEALTH met with Dr. Rabi Hanna, a specialist in pediatric hematology, oncology, and blood & bone marrow transplantation in the United States to understand more about childhood leukemia and some early signs to look out for.

In Childhood According to Dr.Hanna, pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death in children from a disease perspective. He elaborates, “The most common childhood cancer is leukemia. Pediatric cancer is very different from adult cancers in that the causes are not environmentally related, nor diet related, so I always tell the families of the patients that it is no something mom or dad did, but rather leukemia tends to be related to the genes.”

Early Signs to Watch for

Some early signs of leukemia, tells Dr. Hanna, include the following:
• Persistent fever for more than seven days.
• Cough or runny nose, enlarged lymph nodes that don’t decrease in size even from antibiotics.
• Weight loss.
• Night sweats.

Leukemia doesn’t hide itself and makes itself apparent very fast. He reiterates, “I would always advise parents to take their child to the pediatrician if he/she is exhibiting any of these symptoms. A simple blood test may show abnormal blood cells in leukemia.”

Primary Treatment

The survival rate of leukemia in children is above 90 percent,reveals Dr. Hannaand most children respond well to chemotherapy. “The chemotherapy tends to be a long journey and is usually done as multiple combinations of chemotherapy for a long period of time. Most children respond well and do not require a bone marrow transplant, but 10 percent do relapse and may need a bone marrow transplant,” he says.

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