What to do if a child has leukemia

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Elena Dubikova

Executive Director of the ZHIVI Foundation

What to do if a child has leukemia

Every year in Russia, 3.5 thousand children are foundChief pediatric oncologist: in the Russian Federation, about 3.5 thousand children get cancer every year/Tass leukemia is 40% of all childhood cancers. However, he is curable. The main thing is to notice the symptoms as early as possible. And if the diagnosis is confirmed, act correctly and consistently.

In this article, we will answer the most common questions of parents who have encountered childhood leukemia.

What is leukemia

Leukemia, leukemia or leukemia are three names for the same malignant disease of the hematopoietic system. With this disease, the process of maturation of blood cells “breaks down”.

In a healthy person, the bone marrow regularly renews them: erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets are formed in it. Leukemia, on the other hand, provokes the uncontrolled division of immature cells (blasts), and they crowd out healthy blood cells, which provokes symptomsSymptoms of childhood leukemia/Infocenter “Children's leukemia”: pallor, lethargy, increased bleeding and susceptibility to infections.

Leukemia – it is a systemic disease. Starting with a malfunction of the bone marrow, it covers the entire body, causing disturbances in the functioning of organs and systems.

Therefore, diagnostics are carried out in several directions at once.

First of all, doctors are faced with the task of determining the type of leukemia in order to select a treatment protocol. To do this, it is necessary to study a sample of the patient's bone marrow.

Studies are being carried out on cytology, biochemistry of tumor cells, and molecular genetics. The characteristic features of the neoplasm are identified, they are compared with the clinical features of cells in a particular type of leukemia.

At the same time, a general assessment of the state of internal organs and systems is carried out – it is important to understand what harm the disease has managed to cause to the body.

< p>For accurate diagnosis, you often have to contact several laboratories, including federal ones. In Russia, children can receive treatment in their regions, but for confirmation of the diagnosis, regional hospitals apply to the laboratories of the NMRC DGOI named after N.I. Dmitry Rogachev, National Medical Research Center of Oncology named after N.N. N. N. Blokhin, NII DOGiT them. R. M. Gorbacheva, Children's Clinical Hospital No. 1, Yekaterinburg and others.

Modern science cannot predict the occurrence of this disease. It is not hereditary, not viral or bacterial, so it cannot be infected.

There are many types of leukemia: among them there are both difficult to treat and those in which 9 out of 10 patients survive.

The most common form (ALL). It accounts for up to 80% of the total number of cases of malignant blood diseases in children. This species responds well to treatment.

In second place Acute myeloid leukemia/Childhood Cancer International in terms of frequency of occurrence is acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but it occurs 5 times less frequently than lymphoblastic. It is more difficult to treat, and bone marrow transplantation is often required.

It is important to know that each type of leukemia requires specific treatment. Drugs are prescribed only after an examination and an accurate diagnosis.

Self-diagnosis and self-treatment in such cases are contraindicated: there is a chance to “lubricate” the clinical picture of the disease and complicate the diagnosis.

What to do if the diagnosis confirmed

If, according to the results of tests, blast cells are found in the child’s blood, he is immediately hospitalized in the children’s oncohematological department. They will conduct a detailed examination and make an accurate diagnosis, then treatment will begin.

The patient will be examined and treated in the region of residence – they are sent to federal centersWhere to be treated/Infocenter “Children's leukemia” of children with the most severe cases or a rare type of leukemia. Telemedicine is also actively developing in Russia today.

Even if you are undergoing treatment in the region, the metropolitan specialists will be in touch and will be able to advise colleagues.

In acute lymphoblastic leukemia, therapy can work quickly. However, as mentioned above, the effectiveness of treatment largely depends on whether the disease was detected in a timely manner and therapy was selected.

In the Russian Federation, two main protocols for the treatment of leukemia are used: “Moscow-Berlin” and “Berlin-Frankfurt-Munster”, or simply MB and BFM. Both are included in the clinical guidelines of the Federal Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Children and Adolescents/NODGO, approved by the Russian Ministry of Health. The results of treatment according to the protocols are almost the same, the choice of one or another protocol depends on the specific clinic.

What expenses should you be prepared for

The treatment of leukemia in Russia is included in the CHI program, which means that you do not need to pay for it. Free medical care (CHI and VMP)/N.N. N.N. Blokhin. At the same time, the volume of programs differs in different regions. You can find out exactly what you will be provided with at the expense of compulsory medical insurance at the insurance company that issued the policy, or at the hotline of the territorial division of the Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund.

But there are expense items that the state does not cover. Here are the most common ones:

  • Costs for air tickets, taxis, accommodation. Relevant if you live in the region, but the treatment will take place in the federal center.
  • Bone marrow transplantation. If this procedure is necessary, then the search for a donor falls on the shoulders of the parents. The selection of a donor in the international registry is paid, it costs from 10,000 euros. In the Vasya Perevoshchikov Register of the Russian Federation, this can be done for free, but the money will be needed to activate the donor – this is the process of preparing him for a transplant. Charitable foundations usually help parents with the search for donors and their activation.
  • Additional research and analysis.Their exact list is individual, it all depends on the case of a particular patient. Often, the list of such studies includes genetic tests, consultations of highly specialized specialists or ultrasound.

What other help may be needed and from whom to get it

During treatment, patients and their loved ones often need the advice of a lawyer or social worker. For example, in cases where you need to apply for disability, get medicine at a discount, undergo treatment and rehabilitation for free, fill out documents.

The help of medical lawyers may be needed in all of these matters.

Advice can be obtained through charitable foundations or Clear Morning. The service is free. In the same place, the patient and his relatives can be provided with psychological assistance. It is very important at all stages of treatment, regardless of diagnosis, prognosis, age.

If you need a medical consultation, a second opinion, or if you have general questions about the disease, you can use the Just Ask online service. It is a free referral service for cancer patients and their families. To apply there, fill out the form on the website, indicating the most complete information about your case.

When you need to consider treatment in other countries

Leukemias in Russia are treated quite effectively. But sometimes parents decide to go abroad for treatment. When choosing this option, you need to know a few things in advance:

  • It's expensive.Treatment, accommodation, flight – everything falls on the shoulders of the family. But there are exceptions: if a child cannot be helped in Russia, then they issue an official conclusion about this. In this case, after returning to the country, the costs of treatment abroad are partially compensated. However, it is important to find out in advance all the conditions for receiving compensation and collect the necessary documents. Information can be clarified in the specialized funds, National Medical Research Center of Oncology. N. N. Blokhin and other federal clinics. Charitable foundations are also available for financial assistance.
  • You may need to travel again. Treatment protocols vary from country to country. If after returning home a relapse occurs or complications begin, it will be more difficult to be treated in Russia. It is not a fact that domestic drugs will successfully affect a child. And there may also be bureaucratic difficulties with hospitalization. Therefore, there is a risk that you will again have to go to a foreign clinic where the patient was treated last time.
  • There is no 100% guarantee. Before starting treatment, the child will be examined again, and, perhaps foreign specialists will make the same diagnosis, offer the same treatment as doctors in Russia, but there will be no positive effect. Then, unfortunately, you will waste your time and money in vain.

If you still have questions about hospitalization, treatment and drug provision, you can ask them to the specialists of the ZHIVI Foundation.

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