Understanding Leukemia

Leukemia is primarily a cancer that affects the blood cells. Leukemia begins at the bone marrow, which comprises the soft tissues in the bones. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow.

If an individual is healthy and has no leukemia, he or she has normal blood cells, both white and red, and platelets. White blood cells are the ones that make the aids in fighting bodily infections, while red blood cells are the ones that carry oxygen to the other parts of the body. Platelets, on the other hand, are the ones that regulates or stops blood clotting.

For people who have leukemia, their body produces leukemia cells-an abnormal white blood cell that does not function as a white blood cell does and develops more rapidly than any other cell. In addition, as they grow, they just never stop growing as every cell should.

In the passing of time, the leukemia cells out-populate cells in the body. This may result to anemia, infections and bleeding. These abnormal cells can spread through the nymph nodes and cause pain and even swelling. They can also spread throughout other body organs.

Types of leukemia

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – common mostly in children, but adults can also acquire it.
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) – can affect adults and children alike.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – sometimes hereditary, it is most common among adults who are aged more than fifty five, but is rare among children.
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) – happens mostly on adults.

Causes of Leukemia

The cause of leukemia is still unknown among experts. But there are risk factors on how people can acquire the disease. However, some people do get leukemia without having exposed to these risks and some have leukemia though they do not have any risk factors. Below are some of the risks known to increases the circumstances in which you can get leukemia.

  • If an individual gets exposed to large amounts of radiation.
  • If an individual gets exposed to benzene.
  • If an individual had undergone chemotherapy to treat another cancer.
  • If an individual has down syndrome or other genetic problems.
  • If an individual smokes.

Symptoms of Leukemia

  • Fever and perspires at night.
  • Gets bruised or bleeds easily.
  • Has painful or swelling belly due to the enlargement of the spleen.
  • Lymph nodes at the groin, neck or armpit area are swollen.
  • Gets lots of infections.
  • Feels very weak or tired.
  • Weight loss despite not feeling hungry.

Diagnosing Leukemia

First, the doctor will have to ask about an individual’s medical history and look for symptoms. Secondly, the doctor will have to ask you to perform a series of physical exams then check for symptoms like swollen lymph nodes and/or enlarged spleen or liver.

Finally, the doctor will have to ask for a blood test sample as the disease is found in the blood. If there is a high level of white blood cells and a low level for the other cells, there can be a possibility of leukemia.

If the blood tests are found to be abnormal, the doctor will request a bone marrow biopsy. This can allow the doctor to see the cells in the bone of the patient. Once the results are certain, the proper treatment may begin.

How to treat leukemia?

The treatment depends on various things like what type of leukemia a patient has, how long has it been acquired, the age of the patient and his or her health.

Acute leukemia can be treated by stopping the growth of the abnormal cells. This type of leukemia can be cured. Doctors call the treatment remission. This kind of cure prevents any chance of the cancer coming back.

Chronic leukemia can rarely be treated. In many cases, treatment does not come until the symptoms have appeared, nonetheless, doctors can only provide a way to control it.

Type of Treatments:

Chemotherapy is the common way to treat cancer. It utilizes medicines that are powerful to get rid of the cancer cells.

Stem Cell Transplant is done when there are stem cells supplies provided by a donor. This will provide a healthy amount of normal blood and ups the patient’s immune system. But chemotherapy or a radiation treatment should be done first to destroy any harmful leukemia cells within the body.

Radiation Treatment is performed by providing a high dose of X-ray to the patient to get rid of the leukemia cells and shrink the swelling lymph nodes and spleen.

Biological Therapy boosts the body’s natural defense against the cancer through special medicines.