The cancer of the issues that form blood is Leukemia. It is not possible to understand leukemia without knowing what are noramal blood cells and how they work. Stem cells, the cells in the bone marrow, produce most blood cells, where bone marrow is the soft material that exists within the bones. Stem cells grow into a number of blood cells where each of it has a specific job to perform: White blood cells, Red blood cells and platelets. Infections are fought by white cells (white cells are of different types). Oxygen is provided to the body by the virtue of red cells. Bleeding is controlled by platelets that make clots of blood. On a cell’s getting aged, it dies and new cells generate to serve the function.
You should understand that how stem cells mature into different types of blood cells: a myeloid stem cell makes myeloid blast that gives red blood cell, platelets and white cells of different types; a lymphoid stem cell makes lymphoid blast that gives away white blood cells of different types like T cells or B cells. It is pertinent to know that the white blood cells made of myeloid blast are different from those of lymphoid blasts.
In a person diagnosed with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells these abnormal white blood cells are called leukemia cells. These leukemia white cells are different from normal white blood cells because they do not die on getting aged. These abnormal cells surround normal blood cells and make them incompetent to perform their work.
Symptoms Of Leukemia
These leukemia cells travel through the body and their identification depends on where in the body they are collected. Patients of chronic leukemia can be diagnosed during routine blood test. Patients of acute leukemia feel sick and consult to their doctors. Headaches, confusions, vomiting, loss of muscle control and seizures appear in case brain is affected. Kidneys, lungs, heart, testes and digestive tract can also be the victims of leukemia. Some of the symptoms of leukemia are:
- Swelled lymph nodes that do not hurt, usually present in neck and armpit;
- Sweating in night and fever;
- Getting infection frequently;
- The felling of being tired and weak;
- Easy bleeding and bruising, purple patches in skin or red spots under skin;
- Discomforting or swelled abdomen;
- Without reason weight loss; and
- Paining joints or bines.
These symptoms are not of necessarily leukemia but those who find themselves in such condition must consult doctor.
Types of Leukemia
We can categories leukemiazon several factors. They can be divided on the basis of how swiftly they spread in the body and gets worst.
- Chronic leukemia: In this disease white blood cells perform some of the functions of white blood cells. Its patients may not have any symptoms at initial stages. It gets worst with time and starts to appear.
- Acute leukemia: These cells are unable to perform the functions of normal cells. The number of leukemia cells increase very swiftly.
The types of leukemia also can be grouped based on the type of white blood cell that is affected. Leukemia can start in lymphoid cells or myeloid cells. See the picture of these cells. Leukemia that affects lymphoid cells is called lymphoid, lymphocytic, or lymphoblastic leukemia. Leukemia that affects myeloid cells is called myeloid, myelogenous, or myeloblastic leukemia.
Moreover, leukemia is of four types.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): In this type lymphoid cells are affected where its growth is slow. Each year around 15,000 cases of CLL are diagnosed. The cancer doesn’t affects children, and is mostly found in people above the age of 55.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): It is usually observed in adults, while registering 5,000 victims each year. In this cancer myeloid cells are affected, where its initial growth is slowly.
- Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia (ALL): Affecting lymphoid cells, this cancer grows very quickly. It is commonly discovered in children, but it affects both children and adults. Each year about 5,000 new cases of ALL are registered.
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): Found in both children and adults. AML grows very quickly while affecting myeloid cells. Every year more than 13,000 cases of such leukemia are recorded.
- Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL): It is a comparatively less famous type of leukemia which is rarely found in cancer victims.
Precautions Of Leukemia
When a patient is told that he or she is suffering from leukemia, he or she automatically raise the question why. But neither doctors nor researchers know why a particular person is affected by the leukemia and why not the other. However, there are certain risk factors that can be infectious for the body and we must try to avoid. Moreover, it is worth remembering that the risk factors for different types of leukemia are different.
- AML, CML and ALL are usually observed in those people who are exposed to high level of radiations.
- In World War II, the explosion of atomic bomb resulted in the emission of high level of radiations. Children who are affected by such level of radiations are more likely to suffer from leukemia.
- Those people who have taken the radiation therapy for some other type of cancer are also at risk to cultivate leukemia cells in veins.
- Researches are going on to identify the affects of X-rays and CT scan on the blood cells with respect to the age of the person who goes through such tests. These diagnostic tests are composed of lower level of radiation but makes children vulnerable to develop leukemia.
- Smoking affects the blood cells and increases the chances of AML.
- AML cultivates in those people whose work involves benzene. CML and ALL can also develop. Benzene is not only used in chemical industry but also found in gasoline and cigarettes.
- Those patients of cancer who take cancer fighting drungs have chances to later on develop AML or ALL.
- A number of inherited diseases increase the risk of developing leukemia especially down syndrome.
- All those people who have certain types of blood disorders like myelodysplastic syndrome are more exposed to the AML.
- Adult T-cell leukemia, a rare type of leukemia, is observed in those people who have human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I). Only HTLV-I is contagious where adult T-cell leukemia and other types of leukemia are not.
- It is rare to see that only one person in a certain family is a patient of leukemia. CLL is a cancer that can affect only one person or very few people in a family. Where other cancers are heredity.
One must remember that having one or more of these factors does not mean that you are a leukemia patient. It is also observed that a variety of people who are exposed to these factors have never developed nay type of cancer.
Treatment Of Leukemia
Leukemia patients have a number of treatment options. Stem cell transplant, radiation therapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and watchful waiting are usually suggested. Doctors will ask you for surgery in case your spleen is enlarged to remove it. At time these treatments are used in combination. The selection of treatment depends on the types of leukemia, patient’s age and whether leukemia cells exist in your cerebrospinal fluid. Symptoms of cancer and patient’s health are also considered.
People with acute leukemia are also treated. The purpose of treatment is to destroy the leukemia cells and to curb the symptoms known as remission. After remission, further therapies are made to avoid relapse. Patients of acute leukemia can be cured by this method.
Victims of chronic leukemia are not right away treated. They are suggested to wait until the symptoms appear, the method is known as watchful waiting. To keep the cancer in remission, maintenance therapies are used, however stem cell transplant is suggested for the patients that watch symptoms. Chemotherapy is not used to cure the patients of chronic leukemia.
Leukemia is a disease of blood cells and its actual cause is unknown, only risk factors are listed. Leukemia patients are risked to suffer from infections like anemia and bleeding. It will be helpful if you keep an eye on your body and be watchful about any changes like the production of lymph. Treatment is possible if and only if you catch the cancer in time.