Recognition and management of leukaemia in children

Br J Nurs. 2019 Aug 8;28(15):985-992. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2019.28.15.985.


Leukaemia is the most common cancer in children. The presenting manifestations can be wide-ranging, from a relatively well child to life-threatening complications. Symptoms can be manifested in any of the bodily systems. Undertaking a thorough clinical assessment of the child, in addition to recognising and addressing parental concerns, is vital. Furthermore, recognising that children can commonly present with musculoskeletal or abdominal symptoms increases the diagnostic yield, thereby preventing missed or late diagnoses. Childhood cancer has a huge impact on the child and their family, both at diagnosis and in the long term; providing advice and signposting families to appropriate support groups is an important aspect of their management. Nurses play a vital role in managing children with cancers, starting from raising suspicion and identifying the child with leukaemia, ensuring that high-quality care is delivered throughout their treatment, managing complications, and providing support and information to children and their families. An illustrative case study is included to highlight some of the challenges that health professionals may encounter in their clinical practice.

Keywords: Childhood cancer; Leukaemia; Oncology; Paediatric nursing.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / classification
  • Leukemia / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / nursing*
  • Nursing Diagnosis*
  • Pediatric Nursing*
  • Risk Factors