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Childhood Blood Cancer

Childhood Blood Cancer

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), in particular, is the most common type of young adult and childhood blood cancer.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of childhood ALL are not fully understood, but certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These include:

  • Sex and age: Children and young adults are more susceptible to ALL.
  • Down’s syndrome: Individuals with Down’s syndrome are more likely to develop ALL.


Children with ALL may experience:

  • Fatigue or pale skin
  • Infections and fever
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Swelling in different areas of the body
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Headaches, seizures, dizziness, or imbalance
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Gum problems

Diagnosis and Treatment


A thorough medical history and physical exam are followed by tests to confirm the diagnosis and classify the type of leukemia. These tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Microscopic pathological examination of cells


Childhood ALL is a treatable cancer. Treatment typically involves:

  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Steroids
  • Other medicines
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy (rarely)
  • Stem cell transplant (in some cases)
  • Gene therapy (for specific cases)
  • CAR T-cell therapy (for specific cases)


The prognosis for most children and young adults with ALL is good, with a high success rate for treatment.

Support and Resources

Parents and caregivers can find support through various resources, including:

  • Healthcare teams
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Other health professionals
  • Groups such as the Lymphoma and Leukaemia Society (LLS)

Research and Breakthroughs

Researchers continue to search for the causes of childhood leukemia and develop better treatments, including targeted therapies and gene therapy.


  • American Cancer Society: Provides information and resources for children with leukemia.
  • Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center: Offers specialized treatment programs for childhood blood cancers.

Key Points

  • The most prevalent kind of childhood cancer is ALL.
  • Treatment options vary depending on the individual’s condition and overall health.
  • Prognosis is generally good for most children and young adults with ALL.
  • Research and breakthroughs are ongoing to improve treatment and understanding of childhood blood cancer.


1: What level of calcium in blood indicates cancer?

High blood calcium levels, specifically above 10.3 mg/dL, are often associated with cancer, particularly in advanced stages. This is known as hypercalcemia of malignancy (HCM).

2: What is WBC count cancer range?

The normal range for white blood cell (WBC) counts in people with cancer can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual’s overall health. However, the general range for WBC counts in healthy individuals is typically between 4,500 and 11,000 per microliter (μL) of blood.

For people with cancer, a WBC count above 20,000 μL is often considered high and may indicate a serious condition, such as an emergency situation like acute leukemia. In these cases, it is essential to consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Normal WBC Count Ranges:
  • Adult males are assigned 5,000–10,000 μL at birth
  • Adult females are assigned 4,500–11,000 μL at birth.
  • Children: 5,000 to 10,000 μL
High WBC Count:
  • Leukocytosis: above 11,000 μL
  • Specific causes of high WBC counts include infections, allergies, pregnancy, and certain medications
Low WBC Count:
  • Leukopenia: below 4,500 μL
  • Causes of low WBC counts include autoimmune disorders, bone marrow disorders, lymphoma, and certain medications
WBC Count in Cancer:
  • Elevated WBC counts can be a sign of various cancers, including blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma
  • Treatment for high WBC counts in cancer often involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause, which may include adjusting medications or managing infections

3: Can blood test detects pancreatic cancer?

Yes, blood tests can help detect pancreatic cancer, although there is no single blood test that can definitively diagnose the disease. Certain blood tests can indicate the need for further testing to diagnose or rule out pancreatic cancer.

4: Can blood test detects ovarian cancer?

Yes, blood tests can detect ovarian cancer. While there is no specific national screening program for ovarian cancer, researchers have developed several blood tests that can help diagnose the disease. These tests typically involve measuring the levels of certain biomarkers, such as CA-125, in the blood. For example, the OvaPrint test, which has been shown to be 91% accurate in distinguishing between cancerous and benign pelvic masses, uses a cell-free DNA methylation liquid biopsy approach to detect early-stage ovarian cancer. Additionally, the CA-125 blood test is commonly used to help diagnose ovarian cancer, although it is not completely reliable due to the possibility of false positives and false negatives.

5: Can blood work reveal cancer?

Yes, blood work can sometimes reveal the presence of cancer, but it is not a definitive diagnostic tool for most cancers.

Red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts are measured with a complete blood count (CBC) test. Abnormal results from a CBC may indicate the presence of blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. However, a CBC alone cannot conclusively diagnose these cancers, and further testing is required.

For other types of solid tumors, routine blood work is not sufficient to detect cancer. However, specific blood tests can measure tumor markers, which are chemicals and proteins that may be elevated when certain cancers are present. Examples include:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) for colorectal, pancreatic, breast, ovarian or lung cancer
  • CA-125, the cancer antigen linked to ovarian cancer

While abnormal tumor marker levels may prompt further investigation, they do not definitively diagnose cancer on their own.

Newer blood tests that detect circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) shed from tumors are being researched as a way to potentially detect cancer earlier. However, these tests are still in development and not yet ready for routine clinical use.

In summary, while blood work can provide clues about cancer, it is not a standalone diagnostic tool for most cancers. Blood tests are typically used in conjunction with other methods like physical exams, imaging, and biopsies to diagnose cancer.

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