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Warning Signs and Symptoms

There are different types of pediatric cancer, and each has its own set of symptoms. For instance, children with leukemia may experience frequent bruising, while children with bone cancer might feel pain in their arms or legs. A swollen abdomen can suggest neuroblastoma, while dizziness or seizures are associated with a brain tumor.

Because many of the symptoms of pediatric cancer may also arise for completely unrelated reasons, it is important to follow a careful process of diagnosis before making assumptions or becoming alarmed.

The first step in this process is recognizing early warning signs such as:

  • Continued, unexplained weight loss
  • Headaches, often with early morning vomiting
  • Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back or legs
  • Lump or mass, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis or armpits
  • Development of excessive bruising, bleeding or rash
  • Constant infections
  • A whitish color behind the pupil
  • Nausea which persists or vomiting without nausea
  • Constant tiredness or noticeable paleness
  • Eye or vision changes which occur suddenly and persist
  • Recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin

Again, since these symptoms can arise from completely benign conditions, it is important to work as a team with the child’s doctor, using knowledge of the child and the doctor's knowledge of medicine to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

Read about clinical trials and informed consent »

Find out about the common types of pediatric cancer »

Learn about survivorship challenges »

Source: Ped-Onc Resource Center