Leukaemia in children: Know all about the disease which took Chhello Show actor’s life at 10

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Artistes live with us through their work even when they leave the world. As the Oscar-nominated “Chhello Show” hit theatres on October 14, we remember 10-year-old actor Rahul Koli who recently lost his battle against cancer. The young talent will be remembered for his performance in the film, which focuses on a boy wanting to study ‘light’ as a means to study cinema. Ironically, the death of this child actor has brought ‘light’ to the discussion on how cases of leukaemia are increasing in India.

Rahul Koli passed away earlier this month after struggling with leukaemia for four months. Over the years, researchers have found that leukaemia is one of the most prevalent cancers among children in India. A 2018 study published in Pediatric Hematology Oncology Journal found that this type of blood cancer is more common in northern regions of India.

Health Shots reached out to Dr Divya Bansal, Consultant – Clinical Hematology and BMT, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka to understand all about leukaemia in children.

Know all about Leukaemia which took Chhello Show actor’s life at 10. Image Courtesy: Freepik

What is leukaemia?

Leukaemia is blood cancer, which is one of the most common among children. Explaining cancer, Dr Bansal says, “Leukaemia generally happens due to some genetic mutations that happened in the DNA either before birth or can even happen after the child is born. It is important to understand that a patient on chemotherapy has a very high chance of developing Febrile Neutropenia, which is fever due to a low neutrophil count.” Neutrophil is a white blood cell, which is an essential of your immune system.

If a patient develops a fever while getting chemotherapy, that should not be taken lightly, she highlights. It is vital to reach the haematologist within an hour of feeling symptoms of fever to get timely treatment.

Symptoms of leukaemia

The key to addressing the disease is to know its signs and symptoms. Dr Bansal states that the best prevention is early diagnosis, which is possible when you know the symptoms. So, reach out to your haematologist on time and start your treatment to avoid complications. The expert listed the signs and symptoms of leukaemia.

As for the risk factors, she says there are no obvious symptoms of acute leukaemia. However, radiation, some kinds of drugs, paints, and dyes are some of the common factors that may increase the risk of acute leukaemia in patients.

General symptoms of acute leukaemia include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Lymph nodes
  • Swelling around the neck, armpits and groin region.
Know all about Leukaemia which took Chhello Show actor’s life at 10. Image Courtesy: Freepik

Symptoms among children

Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of leukaemia in children:

  • Bone pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Body aches

How is leukaemia diagnosed?

The diagnosis of acute leukaemia is made after a blood test or bone marrow test is done. The haematologist says the chances of survival and treatment by chemotherapy increase if the diagnosis is done on time. There are newer therapies available now known as targeted therapies or immunotherapies which are reserved for patients who relapse after giving the standard therapy, she asserts.

Treatment options

Dr Bansal says, “Bone marrow transplant is a curable option for the treatment of leukaemia. With the advent of haploidentical transplants, we are looking forward to making transplanting treatment available to all patients. People should understand that leukaemia is curable, and rather than being afraid of it, one should fight it. One must contact the doctors on time and get timely treatment.”

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