Bob, 10, frequently missed school with frequent infections and difficulty breathing. His parents attributed his recurrent upper respiratory issues with allergies or possibly asthma.

Chloe, 7, always had people making comments on how pale she looked. Her parents thought it was normal to be pale because they were of Irish decent. She also complained of her head hurting and being dizzy all the time since pre-school. Her family thought she was just being a kid and making up excuses not going to school.

Both Bob and Chloe were both diagnosed with childhood leukemias after several months of seeing multiple health care providers being told it was allergy, asthma or pretending signs and symptoms and not improving after being compliant with treatment plans.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and is recognized every September by various childhood cancer organizations throughout the world.

Susan's previous columns:

We lead the nation in what?? Brevard County, Florida, is the hot spot of U.S. cases of leprosy

Know the signs: Hemochromatosis can damage organs and shorten life span.

Protect yourself: Summer sun safety suggestions from sunglasses to sunblock

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, each year 15,780 children are diagnosed with cancer. Statistics show that 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday and 20% of children with cancer will not survive the diagnosis.

Per Cedars-Sinai, leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer.

Common signs and symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored in children are: headaches, dizziness, feeling tired, fever, easy bruising or bleeding gums, bone or joint pain and frequent infections.

Night sweats are a common symptom of leukemia, along with unexplained bruising.

Unfortunately, due to non-specific signs and symptoms the diagnosis may be missed or delayed, which can be critical for prognosis. In some health care providers, they may ignore signs and symptoms because of their pre-determined assumptions such as when the provider diagnoses patients when meeting them.

There are different types of leukemia that can affect children. The most common type seen in children ages 2- 4 years old is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The second most common leukemia seen mostly in young children or teenagers is acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

Nobody knows what causes leukemia in children or teenagers. However, there has been discussion that if a child undergoes chemotherapy, radiation treatment or has Down Syndrome then they have an increased risk of developing leukemia later on.

After suspecting that there is something not right with your child, a health care provider may order various diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. Make sure your health care provider comprehends the entire personal and family history and other pertinent details of the timeline of signs and symptoms.

Some tests the pediatrician or dermatologist may order are complete blood count, blood chemistries, X-ray, and evaluation of liver or kidney functioning.

Imaging studies that can be used to help assist in the diagnosis are MRI, CT scan or bone marrow aspiration.

Depending on the diagnosis is what treatment will be selected. Factors to consider for treatment are the age of the child, medical history and overall health. Is the cancer acute or chronic?

Common various treatment options that children and teenagers can undergo are chemotherapy or radiation treatments and depending on the symptoms can influence the treatment plan.

If you have a child or someone you know that has symptoms of pale skin, dizziness, headaches, frequent infections or easy bruising, don’t ignore these signs and symptoms. Make an appointment with the pediatrician or dermatologist.

Some pediatric oncology hospitals that are close in proximity to Brevard County are Advent Health for Children in Orlando, Arnold Palmer Children’s hospital, Nemours Children’s Hospital, or UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Susan Hammerling-Hodgers, a Member of the National Psoriasis Foundation, is a PA-C (Certified Physician Assistant) and MPAS (Master of Physician Assistant Studies) and works at Brevard Skin and Cancer at the Merritt Island, Titusville and Rockledge offices.

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