Free Leukemia: Cancer Patient Information For Families With Children Essay Example
Leukemia is the most common types of cancer that affect children. It accounts to approximately 25 percent of all childhood cancers. It is a type of cancer that affects the blood or bone marrow. Approximately 2,200 children are affected each year in the United States alone (National Cancer Institute, 2014).
Causes and Risk Factors
As is true for all forms of leukemia, scientists are not exactly sure what causes the disease. In the case of childhood leukemia, research interest is intensive. Childhood leukemia cannot be attributed to one specific risk factor. As with most cancers, the potential causes are cumulative and people vary in their susceptibilities. It is likely that any individual children who develop leukemia do so because of their own particular exposures to risk, their innate susceptibility probably due in part to their genes, and chance. Scientists hypothesize that childhood leukemia may be related to the inadequate development of an infant's immune system. Alternatively, the disease may originate because an infant was not exposed to the common infections that occur in early childhood. In both cases, exposure to common infections later might trigger a dysfunctional immune response, including the abnormal proliferation of poorly developed leukocytes (American Cancer Society, 2014).
It also makes sense to examine the effects of maternal exposure to risk factors and development of leukemia in children. Maternal diet was influential. According to studies, pregnant women who supplemented their diets with folate decreased the risk of leukemia in their children. Maternal diet was believed influential as studies showed that pregnant women who supplemented their diets with folate decreased the risk of leukemia in their children. In contrast, pregnant women who ingested high amounts of bioflavinoids such as fruits and vegetables that contain quercetin, soybeans, tea and cocoa, wine and caffeine, increased the risk of infant leukemia. Also, exposure to several physical activities and chemical factors, such as high doses of radiation, could trigger leukemia.
Prevention and Detection of Leukemia
Prevention of leukemia is difficult outside of avoidance of known chemical and environmental exposures. There are no proven screening or early detection programs to date. These diseases are often diagnosed incidentally on a general physical exam or emergency room visit. Increasing provider awareness of the presenting symptoms may facilitate diagnosis, which is often critical to initiating therapy early and achieving optimal clinical outcomes.
Symptoms of Childhood Leukemia
The following are the symptoms of leukemia, according to Cancer.org (2014):
Infections and fever
Bone or joint pain
Swelling of the abdomen
Lack of appetite
Inflamed lymph nodes
Difficulty of breathing
How does leukemia affect the body?
Leukemia disrupts the balance of the blood cells and prevents them from performing their usual tasks. When a child has leukemia, the level of white blood cells is reduced, which leaves the body susceptible to infection. Likewise, reduced levels of platelets, which is responsible for blood clotting, causes more than the usual bruises and nosebleeds. If the cancerous cells reach the brain, a child could suffer headaches and nausea triggering the tissues around the brain and spinal cord to get irritated and inflamed. Worst, painful bones could cause cancerous cells to spread through the bone marrow.
A pediatric oncologist is involved in providing treatment to children with leukemia. Once leukemia is diagnosed and determined, the oncologist, together with the medical team, will discuss the most suitable treatment options for your child. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment option for childhood leukemia. High-dose chemotherapy may be needed together with stem cell transplant for higher risk leukemias. The use of targeted drugs, surgery, and radiation therapy may also be explored when deemed needed most.
American Cancer Society (2014). Leukemia in Children. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemiainchildren/detailedguide/childhood-leukemia-treating-general-info.
National Cancer Institute (2014). Leukemia. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/leukemia.