What Are the Symptoms of Cancer in a Child?

Reviewed on 1/19/2021

Pediatric Cancer Symptoms

Even the most common types of cancer in children are rare compared with adult cancer rates. Most cancer symptoms in children may be caused by other conditions, but certain hallmarks, like unexplained weight loss, lumps or masses, or chronic, unexplained fevers may require further investigation.
Even the most common types of cancer in children are rare compared with adult cancer rates. Most cancer symptoms in children may be caused by other conditions, but certain hallmarks, like unexplained weight loss, lumps or masses, or chronic, unexplained fevers may require further investigation.

Cancer in children is not common, and it can be hard to detect because symptoms are similar to many childhood illnesses.

The Pediatric Oncology Resource Center uses the acronym CHILDCANCER to describe some common symptoms of childhood cancer:

  • Continued, unexplained weight loss
  • Headaches, often accompanied by early morning vomiting
  • Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back, or legs
  • Lump or mass, often in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits
  • Development of excessive bruising, bleeding, or rash
  • Constant, frequent, or persistent infections
  • A whitish color behind the pupil
  • Nausea that persists or vomiting without nausea
  • Constant tiredness or noticeable paleness
  • Eye or vision changes that occur suddenly and persist
  • Recurring or persistent fevers of unknown origin

Most of the time, these symptoms are caused by conditions that are not cancer, such as an injury or infection. See a doctor if your child has any of the above symptoms for a diagnosis. 

What Are Some Common Childhood Cancers?

Types of cancer that are common in children include: 

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Reviewed on 1/19/2021
References
https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/childhood-cancer/symptoms-and-signs

http://www.ped-onc.org/diseases/childhoodcancertypes.html