Also known as Blood Cancer
ABOUT THE DISEASE
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow caused due to the over production of white blood cells (cells which fight off infections and diseases). This develops in the immature or developing cells of the bone marrow. This area is responsible for the development of a host of cells including Red Blood Cells (RBC) - essential for carrying oxygen, Platelets - essential for blood clotting and White Blood Cells (WBC)- essential to fight infections.
The cancerous cells prevent healthy red cells, platelets, and mature white cells (leukocytes) from being made causing life-threatening symptoms to develop.
Each of these types of Leukemia are divided into two major forms:
- - Acute (which progresses quickly)
- - Chronic (which progresses more slowly)
There are many types of leukemia, which are classified by the specific type of white blood cell involved.
The four main forms of leukemia are:
- - Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- - Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- - Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- - Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
Once the disease is in progression some or all of the following symptoms are identified:
- • Easy bruising or bleeding from the gums or nose
- • Anemia
- • Swollen lymphnodes in throat, groin or armpits
- • Susceptibility to infections due to low immune levels
Although no specific causes have been identified, it is caused when the DNA of a single cell in the bone marrow mutates and becomes damaged. This changes the cell`s ability to develop and function normally. Further, all cells that arise from that initial cell also have the mutated DNA. What causes this mutation is unknown.
Certain factors that may put a person at higher risk are- very high doses of radiation, and exposure to certain chemotherapy drugs and chemicals like benzene.
- Physical examination
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Bone marrow biopsy along with a cytogenetics analysis
Treatment varies with the type and stage of the disease.
The treatment is a mix of :
- Chemotherapy alongwith frequent transfusions of red blood cells and platelets
And, in specific cases :
- Bone Marrow Transplant
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