Child-Survivors of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Can the Development of Osteoporosis be Delayed or Avoided Through Physical Activity?

girl with cancer

Leukemia is a word that freezes the blood in one’s veins. It sounds more terrifying when an innocent child is diagnosed with this horrible disease. Nevertheless, one must not get horrified. The biggest problem that a patient can face is the loss of time because of many wrong diagnoses. The most important thing is to recognize the enemy and start fighting with it. If the disease is revealed at an early stage, children have a high chance to recover. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital investigation, 98% of all pediatric patients go into remission within the first month of treatment. 90% do not get symptoms within 10 years after medication. Such patients are considered to be completely cured. To join survivors, one must learn as much as possible about the disease and start the required therapy immediately.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL for short, is a type of cancer. Regarding the Cancer.net statistic, over 74% of children and teenagers suffer from ALL. The most vulnerable part of the body is the blood-vessel system. The disease ruins white blood cells that help children withstand infections and cope with major diseases. When children lose these cells, they start feeling sick, dizzy, exhausted, and feverish. Other common symptoms of the illness are lumps in different body parts, pale skin, bruises that appear from nowhere, bleeding that is hard to stop, lack of appetite, difficulty breathing, and pain in the under-ribbon area, skeletal muscles, joints, and bones.

The disease cannot be treated fast. It requires a certain period to bring back the number of white cells to the norm to go into remission. After that, a person goes on taking medicine that continues destroying harmful cells till they disappear completely. Finally, a health advisor might prescribe drugs and chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that could remain in the body after the first two stages. Doctors choose one of the four common types of cancer treatment to cure a child of ALL. The first one is chemotherapy that consists of either dripping and oral pills or monotherapy. The second type requires a matching donor whose bone marrow cells can be transplanted to a patient. This method is usually used for children who have lost many white cells after chemotherapy. The third type involves x-ray radiation that prevents the spread of cancer cells and kills the already formed ones. The last method is targeted therapy that destroys cancer cells but does not hurt normal healthy cells. The treatment depends on the situation and the health state of the patient.

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Sometimes, patients go into remission, but the symptoms return over time. It means that not all cancer cells were killed, and the immune system was too weak to handle that. That is why it is essential to control the situation. After the end of the therapy, a patient’s family must be ready to support a child and monitor his health condition regularly. Unfortunately, one cannot forget about months or even years of chemo tortures, thousands of injections, and pain after being released from the hospital. It is essential to track symptoms and do lab tests of blood to let doctors observe the consequences of treatment. Besides, drugs and radiation can cause long-term side effects. Cancer Research UK names infertility, fatigue, cognitive problems, suppressed immune system, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, diabetes, cataract, thyroid dysfunction, breathing disorders, second cancer, and early menopause as possible side effects of ALL treatment. Health advisors inform parents about the possible danger and ask them to allow a specialist to examine a child every month after the remission begins and twice a year after three years of remission. If the remission lasts longer, there will be fewer visits to a specialist. Checkups will turn into a standard procedure. The frequency of tests depends on the applied therapy, the duration of medication, and the leukemia subtype. According to clinical research, the absence of ALL symptoms within two years signals recovery.

It is hard to explain the reason for disease and hard cures to a child. That is why parents should have a plan to let survivors adjust to their new life. Their task is to keep medical records and jot down changes that occur in the after-treatment period. Moreover, doctors can suggest going through additional tests in the future. Parents must not forget about them. Everyone should remember that it is easier to prevent or treat disease at its early stage than neglect regular examinations and face horrible consequences.

Fortunately, medical approaches to cancer treatment are improved every year thanks to clinical case studies and new technology. It is essential to find the best medical team for a child. It must include not only a cancer specialist but a psychologist, nutritionist, nurses, and peers who can help them withstand disease and experience positive emotions that are very important. The emotional and social well-being of children during and after therapies is significant. They help patients prevent psychosomatic disorders. Spiritual healing cannot be explained by science, but a human being is not completely researched yet. That is why a person selects between traditional and non-traditional medicine. The second one considers not only the physical but emotional and spiritual health of a person to guarantee recovery.

Judging the above-described symptoms, treatment methods, and after-treatment side effects, children who fight with ALL are heroes. They struggle daily in the battle with the enemy that is inside them. That is why parents should do their best to guarantee a welcoming living environment during therapies and after them. Positive emotions and social well-being distract children from their pains and negative thoughts. Psychologists are aware of training that helps kids recover mentally. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia exhausts vital powers and trust in the future. That is why doctors should inform patients about inspiring statistics. Besides, parents should not neglect regular medical checks that help to reveal the disease at early stages. Medical therapy must not be delayed for no reason. All symptoms, prescriptions, and lab tests are to be kept for years because the disease can return, and the treatment can cause severe side effects. Doctors must know what provoked them to react correctly and save a patient’s life.

Source

  1. “Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).” St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org/disease/acute-lymphoblastic-leukemia-all.html. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.
  2. “Leukemia – Acute Lymphoblastic – ALL – Childhood – Statistics.” Cancer.Net, 21 Apr. 2021, www.cancer.net/cancer-types/leukemia-acute-lymphoblastic-all-childhood/statistics.
  3. “Living as a Childhood Leukemia Survivor.” Cancer.Org, www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-in-children/after-treatment/follow-up.html. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.
  4. “Long Term Side Effects of Treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) | Cancer Research UK.” Cancer Research UK, www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/acute-lymphoblastic-leukaemia-all/treatment/side-effects/long-term. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.
  5. Mason, Su. “Spiritual Healing: What Is It? Does It Work and Does It Have a Place in Modern Healthcare?” Rolay Collge of Psychiatrists, 2010, www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/members/sigs/spirituality-spsig/su-mason-spiritual-healing-in-modern-healthcare-x.pdf?sfvrsn=4fc21449_2.
  6. “NCBI – WWW Error Blocked Diagnostic.” NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6977218. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.
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