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It is of course every parent’s nightmare for their child to be stricken with a terrible illness. However, by having even the most basic knowledge of the symptoms of cancer you could literally save their life! The symptoms of cancer in children depend on the location of the tumour, or indeed the nature of the illness.  If you notice a change in your child´s body, it is important that you contact your doctor as quickly as possible. Please be aware that the following list contains symptoms that can be indicative of many other medical conditions that are not related to cancer or terminal illness, and indeed some of them may be absolutely harmless and just symptomatic of something as easily explained as a virus or bug.  The most important thing however is that you speak to your GP if you are concerned, particularly if the child is too young to answer any questions about how they are feeling.


  • Vomiting

  • Weight loss

  • Changes in eyesight

  • Feeling generally unwell for no reason

  • Limping

  • A lump or swelling

  • Looking pale

  • Feeling tired a lot

  • Pain

  • Night sweats or temperatures

  • Unexplained bruising

  • Headaches




As previously mentioned, the first port of call if you have concerns about the health of your child must be your GP. Explain your concerns to him or her and if they share your concerns then the next step will be for them to refer your child to hospital. Once they are there they will be seen by a specialist who will be able to carry out the necessary tests to accurately diagnose your child.  There are a huge number of tests that can sometimes need to be carried out in order to ascertain the most accurate diagnosis and consequently the most effective treatment; these are some of the most common tests and a brief and simple explanation of how they can help in the process of diagnosing a problem.


Blood Test

 Blood tests are able to effectively count the number of blood cells and  can give a clear indication of the efficiency and health of internal organs such as the liver and the kidneys.



A biopsy involves the removal of a small amount of tissue so that it can be examined under a microscope. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but except for certain types of brain tumours, only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis. The sample removed during the biopsy is analysed by a pathologist - a doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease.


Bone Marrow Test

The inside of the bone marrow is the place where blood cells are made and a bone marrow biopsy enables a specialist to examine the interior of the marrow.


Lumbar puncture

A lumbar puncture is a procedure in which a doctor uses a needle to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to look for cancer cells, blood, or tumour markers which are substances found in higher than normal amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues of people with certain kinds of cancer. CSF is the fluid that flows around the brain and the spinal cord. Doctors will generally give a child an anaesthetic to numb the lower back before the procedure and make it more comfortable for them.



This procedure allows a specialist to see inside the patient’s body in order to examine bones and organs and see if there are any abnormalities.

Ultrasound scan:

This type of scan which is ordinarily associated with the scans that show the development of a foetus during pregnancy use sound waves to project an image of the inside of the body.


Other Tests

CT Scan

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan. A CT scan is used to create a 3D picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. Computers then combine the images into a detailed, view that can show any abnormalities or tumours. A CT scan can also be used to measure the size of a tumour.In some cases, a special dye called a contrast medium is given before the scan to provide a more detailed image.


PET Scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan.This type of scan is a way to create pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. A small amount of a radioactive sugar substance is injected into the patient’s body. This sugar substance is taken up by cells that use the most energy. Because cancer tends to use energy actively, it absorbs more of the radioactive substance. A scanner then detects this substance to produce images of the inside of the body.


MRI Scan

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI  implements   magnetic   fields,  rather  than

x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body. These types of scan  can also be used to measure thesize of a cancerous tumour. A special dye called a contrast medium is given before the scan to create a clearer picture.

About Cancer & Research

Symptoms and diagnosis of cancer in children and teenagers

Kids for Life will use your donations in a number of ways to benefit children with cancer, and one of our chief concerns is helping in the search for a cure.


The current statistics reveal that one in approximately 500 young people, including babies and children, will develop cancer. Whilst Kids for Life endeavours to help in many ways, we believe that research into a cure for this terrible illness is of paramount importance. The ways in which research advancements can help are:  


  • To increase the number of children cured of cancer

  • To make treatment less distressing

  • To improve chemotherapy

  • To individualise treatment

  • To develop new treatments


Great progress has been made in the treatment of childhood cancers over the past 30 years and with your help we can continue this progress.

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