Cancer can be hard to detect in children. Children with cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, children with cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer.
Many of the symptoms can be described using an acronym provided by The Pediatric Oncology Resource Center. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your child’s doctor.
Continued, unexplained weight loss
Headaches, often with early morning vomiting
Increased swelling or persistent pain in the bones, joints, back, or legs
Lump or mass, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits
Development of excessive bruising, bleeding, or rash
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
Your child’s doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms your child is experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long your child has been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.
If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your child’s health care team about symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.