Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Treatments for leukaemia in children can cause a range of short-term side effects, such as loss of hair.

Treatments for leukaemia in children can cause a range of short-term side effects, such as loss of hair.
beginning of content

Leukaemia in children

2-minute read

Leukaemia is the most common cancer in children. In most cases, children are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), which can often be treated successfully.

Children with leukaemia usually need treatment for two to three years, as well as ongoing regular check-ups to monitor and treat any late effects.

Types of childhood leukaemia

There are several types of leukaemia seen in children, including:

  1. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), also called acute lymphocytic leukaemia
  2. Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), also called acute myeloblastic leukaemia
  3. Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), which is very rare in children but more common in teenagers
  4. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, the most common type of leukaemia in adults but rare in children.

Types of leukaemia differ in the type of cell they originated from, as well as in the way they are treated and their chance of successful treatment.

Treatment for childhood leukaemia

The main treatment given to children with leukaemia is chemotherapy (a combination of drugs), usually as tablets or injections. Radiotherapy may also be used to kill cancer cells in the brain, and in some cases, a stem cell or bone marrow transplant may also be necessary. Other treatments include& antibiotics to prevent infections, biotherapy to use the body's own immune system to fight cancer cells, targeted therapy, medicine that targets cancer cells but with fewer side effects than chemotherapy, and blood products to restore the normal contents of the blood.

Treatments for leukaemia in children, as with adults, can cause a range of short-term side effects, such as nausea and loss of hair. Longer term effects, called 'late effects', can also develop any time after treatment, so ongoing check-ups are needed.

Living with childhood leukaemia

Children with leukaemia can need treatment for up to three years. During this time, it's important they have the opportunity to live as normal a life as possible. Whenever feeling well enough, they should be encouraged to do their usual activities, like having playtime, and going to school or day care.

Caring for a child with leukaemia can be very challenging and stressful. Many support services exist to help families, including Cancer Councils in each state and territory (Phone 1311 20), and the Leukaemia Foundation.

Last reviewed: April 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Back to Directory Acute Lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) - Child February 20, 2014 To view this article in the new Rare Cancers Australia Knowledgebase, click here Definition of leukaemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Leukaemia - Cancer Council Australia

Find out information about leukaemia (or leukemias - U.S. spelling) from Australia's most trusted cancer control organisation.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia/Other Myeloid Malignancies

Back to Directory Acute Myeloid leukaemia/Other Myeloid Malignancies - Child February 20, 2014 To view this article in the new Rare Cancers Australia Knowledgebase, click here Leukaemia and other diseases of the blood and bone marrow may affect red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Back to Directory Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia February 20, 2014 To view this article in the new Rare Cancers Australia Knowledgebase, click here Definition of leukaemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Back to Directory Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia February 21, 2014 To view this article in the new Rare Cancers Australia Knowledgebase, click here Definition of leukaemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Childhood leukaemia cancer information | myVMC

Childhood leukaemia refers to cancers of the stem cells of bone marrow which occur in childhood. They account for 35% of all childhood cancers.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Leukaemia | Cancer Australia Children's Cancers

Leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It occurs when the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells (lymphocytes), which are part of the bodys immune system to fight infections. Find out more on leukaemia, including the types, risk factors, symptoms and treatment

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Leukaemia - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) Home / Cancer & Blood Disorders / What is Cancer? / Leukaemia / Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Around 80% of leukaemias in children are Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemias and can be classified as standard risk, medium risk, high risk or very high risk

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Imatinib-DRLA Capsule - myDr.com.au

Imatinib-DRLA Capsule - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo