How did my child develop leukemia?
The majority of childhood leukemias are acquired diseases, meaning the genetic mutation or chromosomal abnormality occurs by chance rather than being passed down from a parent. An alteration or defect in the immune system may increase the risk for developing leukemia. Children who get chemotherapy to treat some types of cancer have an increased risk of developing leukemia later on, and kids who receive high doses of radiation also seem to be at increased risk. Adolescents with certain genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome or Li-Fraumeni syndrome, are also at increased risk of developing leukemia. With the exception of the factors above, little is known about the causes of childhood leukemia.
How did my child develop Hodgkin lymphoma?
The specific cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is unknown. It is possible that a genetic predisposition and exposure to viral infections may increase the risk for developing Hodgkin lymphoma. There is a slightly increased chance for Hodgkin lymphoma to occur in siblings of patients. There has been much investigation into the association of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes the infection mononucleosis. This virus has been correlated with a greater incidence of children diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, although the direct link is unknown. There are many individuals, however, who have infections related to EBV who do not develop Hodgkin disease.
How did my child develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
The specific cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is unclear. It is possible that genetics and exposure to viral infections may increase the risk for developing this malignancy. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has also been linked to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Non-Hodgkin may be a second malignancy as a result of the treatment for certain cancers. There has been much investigation into the association of the Epstein-Barr virus that causes the mononucleosis infection, as well as HIV, which causes AIDS. Both of these infectious viruses have been linked to the development of Burkitt's lymphoma. Children and adults with certain hereditary immune system abnormalities have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including patients with ataxia telangiectasia, X-linked lymphoproliferative disease, or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. People who have had organ transplants and need to take medicines to suppress their immune systems are also at increased risk.
How long will my child be in your care?
The timing of your child’s discharge depends on many factors, including the type, location, and extent/stage of the disease. It can range from two months to three years.
What are the biggest complications that can occur from treatment for the liquid tumor?
Infections, damage to other systems of the body, and second cancers may occur from chemotherapy and radiation used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. Nausea, hair loss, breast cancer (for females later in life), and psychological issues, including depression, are also common complications.
What is the long-term outlook for leukemia, lymphoma, and liquid tumor patients?
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly from child to child. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis, and continuous follow-up care is essential.