Can Childhood Leukemia Be Found Early?

At this time there are no widely recommended blood tests or other screening tests for most children to look for leukemia before it starts to cause symptoms. Childhood leukemia is often found because a child has signs or symptoms that prompt a visit to the doctor. The doctor then orders blood tests, which might point to leukemia as the cause. The best way to find these leukemias early is to pay attention to the possible signs and symptoms of this disease.

For children at increased risk

For children known to be at increased risk of leukemia (because of a genetic condition such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Down syndrome, for example), most doctors recommend careful, regular medical checkups and possibly other tests. The same is true for children who have been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for other cancers, and for children who have had organ transplants and are taking immune system-suppressing drugs. The risk of leukemia in these children, although higher than in the general population, is still small.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Rabin KR, Gramatges MM, Margolin JF, Poplack DG. Chapter 19: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Rabin KR, Margolin JF, Kamdar KY, Poplack DG. Chapter 100: Leukemias and Lymphomas of Childhood. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Last Medical Review: February 12, 2019 Last Revised: February 12, 2019

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.