Leukaemia is a cancer in which abnormal white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and eventually spill out into the bloodstream. Leukaemia cells ultimately outgrow normal blood cells, causing them to be unable to prevent infections, carry oxygen and cause the blood to clot.
Although all types of leukaemia can occur in children, the most common are Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Other types of leukaemia include:
Chronic lymphoblastic leukemia (CLL)
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)
Symptoms may include:
Feeling lethargic, weak, pale, dizzy or experiencing headaches
Pain in the back, leg and joints, trouble standing or walking
Bruising easily, unusual bleeding, frequent nose bleeds, bleeding gums, petechiae (red pinpoints on the skin)
Repeated, frequent infections
A fever that lasts for several days, with or without an infection
Loss of appetite and weight loss
Swollen lymph nodes, bloated or tender stomach, swollen liver or spleen
Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, groin, around the eyes, or other parts of the body
Treatment depends on the type of leaukaemia, but generally entails a combination of chemotherapy. With some types of leukaemia, especially relapsed Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, radiation and stem cell transplants can be used.