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Conditions & Treatments

We treat nearly all children who receive care at Arkansas Children’s, whether they have a common illness or a rare condition. Our pathologists are experts at performing tests to diagnose everything from acute appendicitis to rare forms of pediatric cancer.

Our pathology team also works with your child’s doctors to determine the best treatments and to ensure that your child responds well to the care and treatments provided.

Acute Appendicitis

Acute appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix. The appendix can be blocked and can fill with bacteria. If left untreated the appendix can burst and cause infection. A child with acute appendicitis may feel several symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain near the belly button
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal swelling

Treatments include antibiotic medicines, drainage of the appendix and surgery to remove the appendix.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease includes different types of heart defects that are present at birth, such as:

  • Septal defects are holes in the walls between the atria and ventricles. This causes oxygenated blood to mix with nonoxygenated blood. Septal defects can lead to heart failure if left untreated.
  • Valve defects can cause blood leakage or backflow when the valve flaps do to close properly. Valve defects are sometimes detected as a heart murmur.

Children with these conditions may experience symptoms including:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart beat

Treatments for congenital heart disease often require surgical repair.

Hirschsprung Disease

Hirschsprung disease occurs when nerve cells are missing in all or part of the small intestine, large intestine and colon. This causes stool to block parts of the gastrointestinal tract or to move slowly through the affected area. Symptoms include:

  • Swollen belly
  • Failure to grow
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

Surgery is often needed to repair the affected intestines or colon and to restore normal function.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is the most common and most severe type of sickle cell disease. This disorder causes abnormal red blood cells and chronic anemia. Treatments include:

  • Pain management
  • Immunizations to prevent disease
  • Blood transfusions
  • Medicines to boost healthy red blood cells

Leukemia

Leukemia is a blood cancer. There are different forms of the condition. The most common symptoms are fatigue and muscle weakness. Chemotherapy is the most frequently prescribed treatment. Other treatments include:

  • Stem cell transplant
  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Targeted drugs
  • Clinical trials

Brian and Spinal Cord Tumors

Brain and spinal cord tumors are the abnormal growth of cells in the head or neck. They cause a variety of symptoms, such as

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Vision, hearing and speech problems
  • Loss of balance
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Seizures
  • Increased head size in infants
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the extremities
  • Changes in bowel and/or urination control
  • Leg weakness
  • Difficulty walking

Treatments depend on the location and type of tumor. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Clinical trials

Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that often begins in the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. A neuroblastoma tumor may also form in the:

  • Nerve cells outside the brain
  • Spine
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis

Neuroblastomas can form before birth and sometimes are detected on fetal scans. Most children are diagnosed before age 5. Neuroblastomas often spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms depend on where the neuroblastoma begins and include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Lumps
  • Fever

Treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Immunotherapy to help the body’s immune system fight the cancer

Wilms Tumor

Wilms tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. The tumor can become very large, sometimes larger than the kidney itself. There are two types of Wilms tumor and one is easier to cure than the other. Some children do not experience symptoms, which include:

  • Swelling in belly
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Blood in the urine

Treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor and preserve the kidney
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system and is the third most common cancer among patients under age 20. The two most common types are:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma. This form of lymphoma affects children over age 15. The disease-free survival rate is greater than 90 percent.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This condition is more common in boys than girls and is highly aggressive and fast growing. The disease-free survival rate is more than 80 percent.

Symptoms often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • A mass in the chest

Treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Stem cell transplant

Bone Cancer

Bone cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally in the bones and bone tissue. The most common bone cancers in children are:

  • Osteosarcoma. This bone cancer most often occurs in the bones around the knee.
  • Ewing's sarcoma. This bone cancer may affect bones of the pelvis, thigh, upper arm, or ribs.

Bone cancer symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Treatments vary depending on the type of bone cancer. They include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Adrenocortical carcinoma

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare childhood cancer that is most often diagnosed in children between the ages of 1 and 4. The condition may be inherited and it affects more boys than girls. This type of cancer affects the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, causing them to make too much or too little of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Symptoms include:

  • A lump in the belly
  • Pain
  • Full feeling in stomach

Treatments may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Hormonal treatment to relieve symptoms caused by extra hormones

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a rare pediatric head and neck cancer that is more common in teens than younger children. This cancer occurs in the nasal cavities or the upper part of the throat behind the nose. It is often associated with the Epstein Barr virus. Symptoms can include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Nasal congestion
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Sore throat

Treatments often include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Targeted therapy
  • Surgery to remove infected lymph nodes

Thyroid carcinoma

Thyroid carcinoma is cancer of the thyroid gland, which sits at the base of throat. The thyroid gland makes hormones needed for a child’s growth. There are different types of this cancer, which is more common in girls. Symptoms include:

  • Lump in neck
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tight or full feeling in neck
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

Treatments vary depending on the type of thyroid carcinoma, and include:

  • Surgery to remove tumors, part or all of thyroid
  • Radioactive iodine therapy, to destroy cancer cells that remain after surgery
  • Thyroid hormone therapy, to replace normal hormones and slow the growth of any residual cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy may be needed if the cancer spread to other parts of the body

Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. There are two types of the condition, one with expanding tumors and the other with tumors that do not grow in size. Rhabdomyosarcoma can appear in the:

  • Bone marrow
  • Genitals
  • Reproductive organs
  • Eyes
  • Head and neck
  • Extremities

Symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma include:

  • Pain
  • Development of a painless mass
  • Bladder or bowel difficulties
  • Menstrual problems
  • Upper respiratory problems
  • Bone pain
  • Anemia

Treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is an uncommon pediatric cancer that affects the retina of eye, which plays a key role in vision. The condition is most often diagnosed in children under age 5. The disorder can be genetic or non-genetic. When retinoblastoma is not inherited if only affects one eye. Retinoblastoma can spread throughout the eye, into the optic nerve and into the brain, bones and bone marrow. Symptoms include:

  • Cat’s eye (a white or yellow spot on the eye)
  • Poor vision
  • Eyes that turn inward or outward
  • Pain from pressure in the eye

Treatments used include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Focal therapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Radiation

Melanoma

Melanoma is a skin cancer most often diagnosed in adults but that affects about 300 children in the U.S. each year. It is the most common skin cancer in kids, especially among teen girls who are more likely to sunbath or use tanning beds. Yet in many children, sun exposure is not a factor in developing melanoma. Symptoms include:

  • A skin bump that itches or bleeds
  • A yellow, white or pink wart-like spot
  • A skin lesion
  • Odd-looking, large moles

Treatment includes:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Immunotherapy, to help the body’s immune system fight the cancer

Rare genetic syndromes

Rare genetic syndromes are a group of uncommon conditions that affect children, some of which may not be identified by a specific diagnosis. These genetic or metabolic conditions can be present at birth or may appear later in childhood. Symptoms of these conditions vary widely. As a result, your child’s care team may include expert:

  • Doctors
  • Metabolic dietitians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Genetic counselors
  • Social workers
  • Child life specialists
  • Pastoral care

Treatments may include:

  • Nutritional therapy
  • Genetic counseling
  • Clinical trials