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Health Information For Parents
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that affects the body’s white blood cells (WBCs).
Normally, WBCs help fight infection and protect the body against disease. But in leukemia, white blood cells turn cancerous and don’t work as they should. As more cancerous cells form in the blood and bone marrow (spongy tissue inside the bones), there’s less room for healthy cells.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) happens when the body makes too many immature white blood cells. These cells, called myeloid blasts, can’t mature into normal white blood cells.
Because AML develops and gets worse quickly, prompt treatment is very important.
Of kids who have leukemia, 20% have AML. Thanks to advances in therapy and clinical trials, the outlook for kids with AML has improved. With treatment, most are cured.
The cause of acute myeloid leukemia is unknown. Some medical conditions can increase a child’s risk of getting it. But just having a risk factor doesn’t mean that a child will get AML.
Risks factors for kids include:
Acute myeloid leukemia develops quickly, and the cancerous cells multiply fast. That’s why AML tends to get worse quickly if it’s not treated.
The symptoms of all types of leukemia are generally the same and include:
If a doctor suspects leukemia, a child may have these tests:
Doctors usually treat children who have acute myeloid leukemia with chemotherapy. These special drugs kill cancer cells. Which drugs a child gets and in what combination depends on the subtype of AML and and whether the cancer cells have mutations (genetic changes). How the cancer responds to the initial treatment is also important in choosing the type of chemo.
Doctors can give chemo:
The treatment goal is remission, which is when tests don’t find any cancer cells in the body. Then, maintenance chemotherapy is used to keep the child in remission and prevent the cancer from coming back. The child will get maintenance chemo for 2 to 3 years.
Kids who have an aggressive type of AML might need a stem cell transplant. Also called a bone marrow transplant, this involves:
Clinical trials are research studies that offer promising new treatments not yet available to the public. Doctors will decide if a child is a good candidate for a clinical trial.
Learning that a child has cancer is upsetting, and cancer treatment can be stressful for any family.
But remember, you’re not alone. To find support, talk to your doctor or a hospital social worker. Many resources are available to help you get through this difficult time.
Leukemia refers to cancers of the white blood cells. With the proper treatment, the outlook for kids with leukemia is quite good.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer. Because it develops and gets worse quickly, prompt treatment is very important. With treatment, most kids are cured.
Learn about this rare type of cancer, which usually affects kids under 4 years old.
While this type of blood cancer is more common in adults, it affects children, too. Thanks to advances in therapy, most kids with CML can be cured.
From treatments and prevention to coping with the emotional aspects of cancer, the Cancer Center provides comprehensive information that parents need.
Different kinds of childhood cancer have different signs, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. But today, most kids with cancer get better.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells.
Certain cancers, or cancer treatment, can weaken the immune system, requiring a child to stay home to avoid exposure to germs. Here are ways to help your child make the best of it.
Cancer is a serious illness that needs special treatment. Find out more about how kids can cope with cancer.
When kids get cancer, it can often be treated and cured. Find out more in this article for kids.
Chemotherapy is a big word for treatment with medicines used to help people who have cancer. This medicine kills the cancer cells that are making the person sick.
Stem cells can develop into cells with different skills, so they’re useful in treating diseases like cancer.
Visit our Cancer Center for teens to get information and advice on treating and coping with cancer.
Stem cells help rebuild a weakened immune system. Stem cell transplants are effective treatments for a wide range of diseases, including cancer.
Taking care of a chronically ill child is one of the most draining and difficult tasks a parent can face. But support groups, social workers, and family friends often can help.
A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are performed to examine bone marrow, the spongy liquid part of the bone where blood cells are made.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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