Oncological diseases, including leukemia, always cause horror in parents to babies. Each of the neoplasms has its own clinical features, and therefore is treated differently.
What it is?
Leukemia in children is a neoplasm formed in the hematopoietic system. These diseases are quite dangerous. Some of them are fatal. Every day, scientists around the world conduct numerous studies and develop new drugs that would allow to treat these diseases.
With leukemia, the normally functioning cells are replaced by the sick. Ultimately, this contributes to the violation of proper blood formation in the baby. Since these diseases are oncological, the treatment is carried out in children’s oncologists. Usually a kid with leukemia is observed in the oncology center throughout his life.
Every year more and more new cases of diseases are registered. Scientists note with regret that the incidence of various forms of leukemia in children increases several times every year. Usually, the first signs of the disease are found in children aged 1.5 to 5 years. Not only children can become ill, but also adults. They have a peak incidence in the age of 30-40 years.
Some medical specialists call leukemia leukemia. In translation, this means a neoplasm of blood. In some ways, this interpretation of the disease is correct. Leukemia disrupts the production of healthy cells of the hematopoietic system. Atypical cells appear that are unable to perform their basic functions.
The body can not control the formation of low-quality cellular elements. They are formed independently. To influence this process from the outside is often quite difficult. This disease is characterized by the appearance of numerous immature cells that are in the bone marrow. This organ is also responsible for blood formation in the body.
The name “leukemia” was suggested by Ellerman at the beginning of the 20th century. Later, there were numerous scientific studies that gave an interpretation of the disease, taking into account impaired physiology. Every year, large financial resources are allocated all over the world to search for drugs that would save babies with leukemia. It must be said that there are significant positive developments in this area.
Of all the types of leukemia in children, the acute form is most common. This is a classic version of the disease. According to statistics, in the structure of oncological incidence of leukemia, every tenth child. Currently, scientists around the world emphasize the importance of studying and finding new drugs for leukemia. This is due to the high mortality and an increase in the incidence of blood neoplasms in children.
Today there is no single factor that contributes to the development of this dangerous disease in children. Scientists put forward only new theories explaining the causes of the disease. So, they proved that exposure to ionizing radiation can lead to the development of blood tumors. It has a detrimental effect on the blood-forming organs.
The relationship between the effects of radiation and radiation can be proved historically. In Japan, after the largest explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the incidence of leukemia in babies has increased several times. Japanese doctors thought that it exceeded the average values by more than 10 times!
There are also scientific versions that leukemia develops after exposure to chemically hazardous substances. Researchers have proven this fact by simulating the appearance of the disease in the laboratory in experimental animals. Scientists note that exposure to certain hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, nitrogen compounds, as well as insecticides, contributes to the development of blood neoplasms. Currently, there is also evidence that various endogenous substances can cause leukemia. These include: sex hormones and steroids, some tryptophan metabolism products and others.
For a long time in the scientific world there is a viral theory. According to this version, many oncogenic viruses are genetically incorporated in the body. However, with adequate functioning of the immune system and the absence of external factors, they are in a passive or not working condition. The impact of various causal factors, including radiation and chemicals, contributes to the transition of these oncogenic viruses into an active state. This viral theory was proposed in 1970 by Hubner.
However, not all doctors and scientists share the opinion that oncogenic viruses initially exist in the body. They explain this by the fact that in all cases a healthy child cannot get infected with a child with leukemia. Leukemia is not transmitted by airborne droplets or by contact. The cause of the disease lies in the depths of the body. Numerous breakdowns and disorders in the immune system often lead to the appearance of tumors of the blood-forming organs in babies.
At the end of the twentieth century, several scientists from Philadelphia found that babies suffering from leukemia, there are violations in the genetic apparatus. Some of their chromosomes are slightly shorter in size than in healthy peers. This finding served as a pretext for proposing a hereditary theory of the disease. It has been scientifically proven that in families where there are cases of leukemia, the incidence of leukemia is found three times more often.
European scientists have proven that some congenital malformations lead to an increase in the incidence of new blood tumors. So, in children with Down syndrome, the likelihood of falling ill with leukemia increases more than 20 times. Such a variety of different theories suggests that currently there is no single view on the development, and most importantly, the appearance of blood neoplasms in babies. To establish the etiopathogenesis of the disease takes more time.
The classification of all clinical options is quite complicated. It includes all forms of the disease that can develop in both newborns and adolescents. It gives doctors an idea of how to determine the disease in babies. Oncological classifications are reviewed annually. They regularly make various adjustments in connection with the emergence of new research results.
Currently, there are several main clinical groups of blood neoplasms:
- Sharp These clinical forms of the disease are characterized by the complete absence of healthy cells. At the same time, specific red blood cells are not formed. Usually, acute leukemias in children have a rather severe course and are characterized by a sad, unfavorable outcome. Adequate and well-chosen therapy can prolong the life of the child.
- Chronic. Characterized by the replacement of normal blood cells with white. This form has a more favorable prognosis and less aggressive course. To normalize the state, various schemes of administration and administration of drugs are used.
Neoplasms of blood have several features. So, the acute form of leukemia cannot become chronic. These are two different nosological diseases. Also, the course of the disease undergoes a transition through several successive stages. Acute leukemia can be lymphoblastic and non-lymphoblastic (myeloid). These clinical forms of pathologies have several characteristic features.
Acute lymphoblastic variant usually manifests itself in infants. According to statistics, the peak of the incidence of this type of leukemia occurs at the age of 1-2 years. The prognosis of the disease is unfavorable. Pathology usually proceeds with a heavy course. This clinical form is characterized by the appearance of an initial tumor focus in the bone marrow. Then characteristic changes appear in the spleen and lymph nodes, over time the disease spreads to the nervous system.
Non lymphoblastic variant occurs equally often in both boys and girls. Typically, the peak incidence occurs at the age of 2-4 years. It is characterized by the appearance of a tumor formed from a myeloid hematopoietic sprout. Usually the growth of tumors is quite fast. When the cells become too much, they reach the bone marrow, which leads to impaired blood formation.
The acute myeloblastic variant is characterized by the appearance of a large number of immature cells, myeloblasts. Primary changes occur in the bone marrow. Over time, the tumor process spreads throughout the body of the child. The course of the disease is quite difficult. To identify this clinical variant of the disease requires numerous diagnostic examinations. Late treatment or lack of it leads to death.
The main features characteristic of blood neoplasms are:
- Changes in blood parameters. Appearance in the analyzes of atypical and immature cells that are completely absent in a healthy person. Such pathological forms can very quickly divide and increase in quantity in a short period of time. This feature causes the rapid growth of tumors and the severity of the disease.
- Anemia. Reducing the number of red blood cells is a characteristic sign of neoplasms of hematopoiesis. The reduced content of red blood cells leads to the fact that tissue hypoxia occurs. This condition is characterized by insufficient intake of oxygen and nutrients to all organs and tissues of the body. For cancer tumors characterized by severe anemia.
- Thrombocytopenia. In this condition, the normal platelet count is reduced. Normally, these blood plates are responsible for the normal blood coagulation. With a decrease in this indicator, the child appears numerous hemorrhagic changes, manifested by the appearance of adverse symptoms.
Usually, the first signs of leukemia are very subtle. The state of health of the child in the early stages of the disease is practically not affected. The kid leads a habitual way of life. Suspected illness visually fails. Usually, leukemia is detected during clinical tests or during the transition to the active stage.
Early non-specific symptoms include: loss of appetite, fatigue, disturbed sleep and night sleep duration, slight apathy and slowness. Typically, these signs do not cause any concern to parents. Even the most attentive fathers and mothers are often unable to suspect the disease at an early stage.
For some time, the child has adverse symptoms of the disease. The skin tone is often changed. It becomes pale or acquires an earthy color. Mucous membranes may erode and bleed. This leads to the development of stomatitis and gingivitis. In some cases, inflammation in the oral cavity are ulcerous-necrotic.
There may be an increase in lymph nodes. In some forms of leukemia, they become visible from the side. Usually the lymph nodes are tight to the touch and very tightly soldered to the surrounding skin. Doctors isolated Mikulich syndrome. This condition is characterized by an increase in the lacrimal and salivary glands. This specific syndrome is caused by leukemic infiltration.
A decrease in the total number of platelets in the blood leads to the appearance of various hemorrhagic syndromes. They can appear differently in babies. The most characteristic manifestation are bruises on the legs. Usually they appear spontaneously without traumatic damage and not as a result of falls. Also, babies may experience nasal, gingival bleeding. The most dangerous forms are hemorrhages in the abdominal cavity.
A common symptom is the appearance of muscle pain and tenderness in the joints. This is due to the development of small hemorrhages in the articular cavities. The long course of the disease leads to the development of a child’s pathological excessive fragility of the bones. Bone tissue becomes loose and easily susceptible to any damage, as well as mechanical stress.
The active development of the disease leads to the appearance of disorders of the internal organs. For babies with leukemia, an increase in the size of the liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly) is characteristic. Usually, this symptom can be easily identified by abdominal palpation or during an ultrasound examination.
Late stages are accompanied by disorders in the work of the heart. This is largely due to severe anemia. Insufficient oxygen supply to the heart muscle provokes enhanced contractions of the heart. In a child, this condition is manifested by the appearance of tachycardia, and in some situations even by arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).
Body temperature with leukemia does not always change. In many babies, it can remain normal throughout the course of the disease. Some clinical forms of leukemia are accompanied by fever. It usually increases during a marked deterioration of the condition – a leukemic crisis.
The rapid development of the disease contributes to disorders in the physiological development of the child. Usually children suffering from leukemia significantly lag behind their peers in many indicators of health. The long and severe course of the disease leads to the fact that ill children are not gaining weight well. Disorders of appetite and side effects of anticancer drugs, as well as the effects of chemotherapy lead to severe suffering of the baby.
Leukemia is also characterized by a decrease in the number of leukocytes. Normally, these cells are designed to protect the body from any infections. The reduction of leukocytes (leukopenia) contributes to a pronounced decrease in immunity. Kids suffering from leukemia are several times more likely to get sick even with the simplest colds. Children with severe leukopenia are forced to undergo treatment in a special sterile box.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to detect leukemia in the early stages. To help identify the disease in a timely manner should laboratory diagnostic methods. These tests are prescribed to the child, as a rule, by a pediatric oncologist or hematologist. Experts diagnose all oncological neoplasms of blood.
It is possible to suspect the disease at home if the child has adverse characteristic symptoms. When they are detected, you should immediately consult a hematologist for an additional diagnosis. Usually several tests are required to establish the correct diagnosis.
The first screening test is a complete blood count. This simple and accessible study helps detect a decrease in the number of red blood cells and platelets. Also, a blood smear is informative for identifying atypical immature blood cells. Acceleration of ESR in combination with changes in the number of erythrocytes and platelets – also indicates a possible leukemia in the baby.
The main research, which allows to accurately determine the presence of immature cells in the body, is spinal puncture. During this procedure, the doctor makes a puncture and takes a small amount of biological material for research. The method is invasive and requires fairly good specialist training. This study allows you to accurately identify the presence of leukemia, as well as to establish its stage and morphological appearance.
Additional diagnostic methods include highly informative studies – computed and magnetic resonance imaging. They help to identify various neoplasms. Studies of bone marrow can establish all the pathological changes that are present in the blood-forming organ. MRI of the abdominal organs will help to identify an enlarged liver and spleen, as well as to eliminate the signs of intra-abdominal hemorrhage during the unfolded stages of the disease.
Forecast for the future
The course of different clinical forms of the disease may be different. It depends on many factors. Some forms of leukemia are treatable. It all depends on the individual characteristics of the baby. Children with multiple chronic illnesses are more difficult to recover. It is not always possible to recover from leukemia. In the late stages of the disease, the prognosis is usually poor.
The purpose of the treatment for leukemia remains with a hematologist or pediatric oncologist. Currently, several treatment programs have been developed that are aimed at prolonging remission. Relapse of the disease is treated in a hospital. The course of the disease is usually undulating. Periods of complete well-being, as a rule, are replaced by relapses.
The primary therapy for leukemia is the prescription of chemotherapeutic drugs. The treatment regimen may be different and depends largely on the clinical form of the disease. Drugs for therapy can be prescribed in various dosages and differ in the frequency of use. An important task of treatment is the selection of an adequate scheme to cope with an excessive number of atypical tumor cells and promote the growth of healthy ones.
In some cases, polychemotherapy is supplemented by immunostimulation. Such treatment is necessary to enhance immunity and improve the immune system. Also, some forms of leukemia can be treated using radical methods. These include bone marrow transplantation from a donor and the introduction of stem cells. To eliminate the symptoms of severe anemia, blood transfusions are used.
Babies with leukemia must receive a high-calorie diet. Usually the caloric content of their daily diet is slightly higher than the age norms. Such a diet is necessary for the child for the active work of the immune system. Toddlers who do not receive the necessary nutrients are more weakened and poorly tolerate chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, to date, specific preventive measures of leukemia have not been developed. The magical cancer vaccine did not appear. Every child can become ill with leukemia, especially if he has factors contributing to the disease. In order to identify tumors as early as possible, parents should be attentive to their baby. The appearance of the first adverse symptoms of the disease should alert and motivate them to seek help from a doctor.
It is important to remember that the earlier leukemia is found, the more favorable the prognosis. Some clinical variants of the disease respond well to treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs. Complete blood count helps to detect many signs of leukemia in the early stages. To conduct such a study babies with risk factors should be annually.
What are the symptoms of the child need to sound the alarm to parents. The answer to this question lies in the water material.