Symptoms of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: red flags to recognize leukemia in daily practice.Klin Padiatr. 2009 Nov-Dec; 221(6):369-73.KP
The aim of this study is to identify clinical "red flags" that may assist the general pediatrician in detecting patients with an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
PATIENTS AND METHODS
Medical history and clinical findings of 189 children and adolescents, diagnosed with ALL between 1/1995 and 7/2004, were analyzed retrospectively.
Only 50% of patients presented with symptoms known in children with leukemia (fever, fatigue, paleness, hemorrhage); 5% were diagnosed accidentally in the absence of any clinical symptoms. The majority of patients had a medical history up to few weeks; in 11% of patients up to several months without impairing curability. 95% of the patients presented at diagnosis with enlargement of lymphnodes, liver and/or spleen. The characteristic laboratory constellation included mono-, respectively bi- or trilinear pathology of the blood count and with blasts in the blood smear.
The clinical diagnosis of ALL relies on physical examination and the blood count including microscopic examination. Therefore, the alertness of the treating paediatrician with regard to clinical findings and a pathologic blood count is more important than elaborate laboratory investigations. In uncertain cases, a close follow-up examination may help to unmask ALL, which will most likely be stratified in the low-risk-group.