Pediatric hematology is the specialization that treats all kinds of blood-related and hematopoietic organ (bone marrow, ganglia, spleen) illnesses in children and teenagers. Blood is composed of plasma and three types of cells: red blood cells, white blood cells (leukocytes) and platelets.
Pediatric onco-hematology focuses on treating neoplasms on children. Usually they’re pediatricians that specialize in hematological illnesses relating to childhood.
Cancer in children and teenagers has characteristics that make it different from cancer in adults. Usually it originates from embryonic cells, it has a short latent period and grows fast; as such, to obtain the best possible results, a quick diagnosis and referral for treatment is fundamental.
In many cases, cancer suspicion and diagnosis on children and teens is hard due to its clinical presentation usually happening through nonspecific signs and symptoms often associated with more frequent, benign childhood illnesses, triggering generalized symptoms that do not allow its identification, such as prolonged fever, vomit, weight loss, bleeding, general adenomegaly, general bone pains and pallor. Or even through more localized signs and symptoms such as headaches, vision alterations, abdominal pain and osteoarticular pain.
Acute leukemia is the main neoplasm that attacks children and teenagers, having a very short latent period with symptoms showing up in a few weeks. The most relevant ones are acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Main symptoms are skin and mucous tissue pallor, fatigue, irritability, abnormal bleeding with no reason, fever, bone pains, joint pain, spleen swelling (splenomegaly) and thrombocytopenia symptoms such as nosebleeds, subconjunctival hemorrhages, gum bleeding, petechiae (purple dots on the skin) and bruising.
Childhood lymphoma is a type of lymphatic system cancer divided into: non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).Their symptoms are very similar to those of common childhood illnesses, such as lymph nodes swelling, fever, night sweats and weight loss, aside from stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
This is the third most common type of cancer in this age bracket. The main difference between childhood and adult lymphoma is how children respond to therapy. Currently, considering an early diagnosis and adequate treatment, cure rates are very high. For childhood NHL cure rates are 70%, and for HL they’re 95%.