What is leukemia in children?

Leukemia in Children

Leukemia in children: Overview

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells. It starts when cells in the bone marrow become leukemia cells. Over time, these cells crowd out the healthy blood cells in the blood, bone marrow, and other tissues. There are many different kinds of leukemia. The type of treatment your child receives depends on the type of leukemia your child has.

Leukemia is usually treated with medicines, such as chemotherapy. Your child may also need radiation treatments or a procedure called a stem cell transplant. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy are also used to treat leukemia. Your doctor will talk to you about what type of leukemia your child has and what kinds of treatment may be best.

Childhood Leukemia: Understanding Treatment

How can you care for your child who has leukemia?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Make sure your child eats healthy food. If your child does not feel like eating, give your child food that has protein and extra calories to keep up strength and prevent weight loss.
  • Make sure your child gets some physical activity every day, but do not let your child get too tired.
  • Help your child get enough sleep, and take time to do things your child enjoys. This can help reduce stress.
  • Get help if you or your child needs it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or counselor.
  • If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea:
    • Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other clear liquids until your child feels better.
    • When your child is feeling better, have your child eat clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.

Childhood Leukemia: Working With Your Care Team

Leukemia in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has any abnormal bleeding.
  • Your child has an infection.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as a cough, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child acts much more tired than usual.
  • Your child has swollen glands in the armpits, groin, or neck.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.