Early Diagnosis of Pediatric Malignancies

Early Diagnosis of Pediatric Malignancies

Anne D. Walling

(Great Britain–The Practitioner, September 1999, p. 664.) Although childhood cancer is rare, and the early symptoms are often insidious and nonspecific, a high index of suspicion should be maintained, especially when children complain of persistent lethargy or are noted to have progressive pallor. Approximately one child in 600 develops cancer by 16 years of age. Early diagnosis improves clinical outcome and can benefit family coping strategies and relationships with health care professionals. Anemia is frequently the presenting condition for cancers, particularly leukemia and lymphoma. Unusual masses and bone pain should also raise suspicion of malignancy. Cervical nodes smaller than 2 cm in diameter are unlikely to be associated with malignancy in a child who has no other signs or symptoms, but a chest radiograph, an abdominal ultrasound examination and a full blood count may be useful to exclude malignancy in suspicious cases.

COPYRIGHT 1999 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group