Blood studies are tests that examine a patient’s blood. They are the most common tests done for cancer patients. They help doctors follow the course of a patient’s disease and select the right treatment dosage.
Blood can be drawn in a variety of ways, depending on your child’s situation. The most common way to draw blood is to insert a needle into a vein. However, children undergoing chemotherapy may have a central venous line in place from which blood can be drawn.
Supporting Your Child
Every child responds differently to getting his or her blood drawn. Some children like to know in advance if they are going to have blood drawn, others will become overly anxious. Some children prefer finger pokes, while others prefer the blood be drawn from a vein. Whatever the issues are for your child, you should try to find ways to give them some choices, such as which finger or arm to poke, so they feel they have some control.
If your child is anxious about needles, talk to a member of the treatment team. There are ways your child can be helped through medical play or relaxation to relieve their anxiety. For example:
- Ask that the person drawing the blood use EMLA to reduce discomfort.
- For younger children, it can be helpful to distract them from the needle.
- For older children, it can be useful to help them feel in control.
- Holding your child’s other hand or arm can provide comfort.
- Plan to do something fun after the blood is drawn. You can give a young child an award right after the test. This creates a positive association with blood tests.
It is important to understand your child’s preferences and how your child reacts. This way you can appropriately prepare your child in a way that reduces anxiety.