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Introduction: Acute leukaemias are the most common malignant neoplasms in childhood, presenting with a variety of nonspecific symptoms. Though many of the recent more sophisticated methods of diagnosis have important prognostic implications, they are often not available in low- and middle-income countries.
Objective: To review the full blood count and bone marrow aspirations at presentation in children diagnosed with acute leukaemias at a teaching hospital in southern Nigeria.
Methodology: A retrospective survey of children with acute leukaemias admitted into the Paediatric Oncology unit of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), from January 2014 to December 2020. Their clinical profile, full blood count and bone marrow aspirations were analyzed using SPSS version 25.0
Results: Forty-three children aged 8 months to 17 years, with a median age of 9 years, were diagnosed with acute leukaemia within the period under review, 28 (65.1%) were males and 15 (34.9%) females, giving a M:F ratio of 1.9:1. Commonest clinical features at presentation were fever (n=28, 65.1%), pallor (n=18, 41.9%) and gum bleeding (n=16, 37.2%); while 38 (88.4%) of them presented with anaemia, 20 (46.5%) had leukocytosis and 36 (83.7%) had thrombocytopoenia with a median platelet count of 42x109/L and circulating blasts were present in the peripheral blood film of most of the patients. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) was the diagnosis in 30 (70%) children, and AML in 9 (21%). The bone marrow was hypercellular in 30 cases (69.8%) and erythropoiesis was depressed in 39 (90.7%) children.
Conclusion: At the UPTH, children with acute leukaemias were mostly males. Fever, pallor and gum bleeding were the commonest symptoms with most of them having circulating blasts. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was the commonest type and bone marrow was mainly hypercellular with depressed erythropoiesis.
Accessed on 15th Jan 2021
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