What is Leukemia?
A cancer of the blood-forming tissues characterized by a large increase in the numbers of white blood cells (leukocytes) in the circulation or bone marrow is Leukemia. When in leukemia, white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and lymph system is immature and abnormal. These white blood cells are called leukocytes.
In some persons, the number of leukocytes is so much that the blood shows a whitish touch. White cells are necessary to fight against deceases in our body. So when the weaker white blood cells become outnumbered the production of normal cells comes down and the ability to fight infection drops drastically. This will make on prone to various deceases
In this condition the production of leukemia cells build up and lower the production of red blood cells, which are oxygen carrying, blood-clotting cells (platelets), and regular leukocytes. If not checked immediately the system will come to a stage where, the excess leukemia cells overpower the bone marrow, flow into the bloodstream, and in the end will raid various parts of the body, namely the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and the brain, and spinal cord.
In Greek the meaning of Leukemia is “white blood”. The condition refers to the situation were the white blood cells are in huge numbers in the blood.
Leukemia for instance is of four types:
The progress of acute leukemia’s is very rapid, whereas chronic leukemia’s grow very slowly. Most of the childhood leukemia’s are acute leukemia’s.
The symptoms are numerous but it may not available in all the persons. It varies in many cases. Commonly seen symptoms are: Weakness or chronic fatigue, Headaches, Skin rash, Nonspecific bone pain, Fever of unknown origin, Frequent bacterial or viral infections, Weight loss that is not due to dieting or exercise, Easy bruising, Bleeding from gums or nose, Blood in urine or stools, Enlarged lymph nodes and/or spleen, and Abdominal fullness.
By medical test of blood sample and bone marrow examination Doctors can find out the presence of leukemia.
Indecently leukemia’s causes are not established till now. The research is continuing in order to search for the cause of this condition. Leukemia occurs in males more often than in females and in white people more often than in black people. Even it is difficult to explain why one person gets leukemia and another does not.
Types of Leukemia
Various kinds of leukemia are seen in patients. Namely the segregation is done in two ways. The nature how quickly the disease develops and gets worse is one way. Another one is by the type of blood cell that is affected.
Leukemia is acute or chronic, lymphocytic or myelogenous. In acute leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are blasts that remain very immature and cannot carry out their normal functions. The number of blasts increases rapidly, and the disease becomes worse quickly.
Acute leukemia’s are of different kinds:
Blast cells present in chronic leukemia, in most cases are matured sufficiently and can perform normal functions. Even though the cells seem mature they are not entirely normal in chronic leukemia. The cells live too long and cause a buildup of certain kinds of white blood cells. Also, the number of blasts increases less rapidly than in acute leukemia. As a result, chronic leukemia worsens gradually.
Lymphocytic and myelogenous (or myeloid) leukemia refer to the two different kinds of cells from which leukemia start. Lymphocytic leukemia develops from lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Myelogenous leukemia (also called myelocytic) develops from either granulocyte white blood cells or monocyte white blood cells
Information from American Cancer Society is given below.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Affects children and adults
- More common among children
- Accounts for slightly more than half of all cases of childhood leukemia
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)(Also called acute nonlymphocytic leukemia: ANLL)
- Affects children and adults
- Accounts for just under half of cases of childhood leukemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Affects adults
- Almost twice as common as CML
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Affects mostly adults: very rare in children
- About half as common as CLL
Can Leukemia be prevented?
The systematic and controlled diet and a proper lifestyle or diet, will reduce the risk factors of most of the cancers. Regrettably, in leukemia, the risk factors are unknown till now. The prevention is not easy when the reasons are not detected.
Can Leukemia be treated?
The reply is positive Yes. The treatment is in two phases: induction therapy and continuation/maintenance therapy. The important treatment in induction therapy is to reduce the number of leukemia cells and the main aim is to stimulate a remission. The next phase of treatment commences after a patient goes into remission. In this the main act is to destroy any remaining cells and to lengthen the remission period as long as possible.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Surgery is usually not an option. Surgery is usually not an option because leukemia cells can spread to all the organs via the blood stream and the lymph vessels.
Radiation therapy is the use of x- rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
The replacement of sick bone marrow with healthy and fit bone marrow is called Bone marrow transplantation.
Effects of Treatment Statistics
It appears irrespective of male or female Leukemia and age. Due early detection and control in the recent three decades the survival rate is three times the past.
Infrequently Lymphedema follows treatment of a variety of cancers. Get into more about Lymphedema.