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Differential diagnoses

Childhood cancer is rare and most symptoms are nonspecific. Such symptoms are most often due to harmless disorders, and investigation is needed only if complaints persist or are unusual. 

Some general differential diagnostic alternatives:

Suspicion of leukemia

  • Infections, primarily viral. Both Epstein-Barr virus (virus causing mononucleosis) and other viruses cause changes in blood values causing suspicion of leukemia.
  • All other causes of anemia among children
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (for joint changes)
  • Bone marrow metastasis from a tumor in another location

Suspicon of central nervous system tumors

  • Injuries
  • Inflammation/infections
  • Constipation/difficulty voiding without an underlying cause 

Suspicion of lymphoma

  • Infections with enlarged lymph nodes
  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis

Suspicion of tumors in the central nervous system

  • Hydrocephalus of other etiology (especially in small children)
  • Migraines, stress headaches (older children)
  • Infections
  • Seizure disorders

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