Leukemia is the cancer of blood cells. The word leukemia is derived from Greek words Leukos means white and Haima means blood. In this type of cancer, the growth and development of the blood cells (especially white blood cells) become abnormal. It is a broad term covering a variety of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasm. It starts in the bone marrow and bone marrow starts to make a lot of white blood cells called leukemia cells. These excess amounts of white bloods cells don’t do the work of normal white blood cells. In fact, this rapid amount stops the growth. With the passage of time, leukemia cells can crowd out the normal blood cells. This causes serious problems such as anemia, bleeding and infection. There are about 28,500 new cases of leukemia are diagnosed each year.
There are four major types of leukemia. Clinically it is subdivided into variety of groups according to the kinds of blood cells and abnormalities of blood cells.
- First division:
This division is between its acute and chronic forms.
- Acute: in this type, the number of blood cells increases rapidly. With rapid increase of blood cells causes the bone marrow unable to produce healthy blood cells. It is most common form of leukemia.
- Chronic: it is excessive build up abnormal white blood cell. It takes months or years to produce abnormal amount of blood cells and mostly occurs in older people.
- Second division:
This division is sub grouped according to the type of blood cells being affected.
Signs and Symptoms
- Lymphocytic: it takes place in a type of marrow cell that goes on to form lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are infection fighting immune system cells and involve specifically B – cell.
- Myelogenous: it takes place in a type of marrow cell that goes on to form red blood cells, some types of white blood cells and platelets.
Symptoms may depend on what type of leukemia you have, but common symptoms include: There are many signs and symptoms of leukemia. Some of them include:
- Abnormal paleness
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Easy bruising
- Repeated infections
- Bone pain
- Abdominal pain
Many Experts don’t exactly know what causes leukemia. But some of the things are known to increase the risk of some kinds of leukemia. These things are called risk factors. Some of the causes are:
- Large amounts of radiation.
- Certain chemicals at work, such as benzene.
- Some types of chemotherapy to treat another cancer.
- Some other genetic problems.
Leukemia can be diagnosed by the many ways. Some of them are:
- Complete blood counts and a bone marrow examination. However in some of the cases it is possible that blood tests result may not show if a patient has leukemia. In some the situation, a lymph node biopsy can also be performed to diagnose some types of leukemia.
- Blood chemistry tests can be used to verify the degree of liver and kidney damage. If the result show damage due to leukemia, doctors may use an X-ray, MRI or ultrasound to view leukemia's effects on such body parts as bones (X-ray), the brain (MRI), or the kidneys, spleen, and liver (ultrasound).
The use of these methods to diagnose whether or not a patient has leukemia, many people have not been diagnosed as a leukemia disease because many of the symptoms are unclear, unspecific, and can refer to other diseases. Therefore, the American Cancer Society predicts that at least one-fifth of the people with leukemia have not yet been diagnosed.
It includes a wide range of infections, blood problems and damage to the bodily organs. Some of the common complications are kidney failure and less number of neutrophils. In some cases complications may include death or any other form of cancer. Death is possible with Leukemia, new research and better treatment choice continues to improve the survival rate. The survival rate may depend on the type of leukemia. Some of the types of leukemia have a better diagnosis than others. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), acute lymphocytic leukemia has the best diagnosis. The rate of survival within the first five years is between 35 and 45 percent. The long-term survival rate for acute lymphocytic leukemia is at 40 percent.
There are many options available for the People with leukemia but several treatments for leukemia may cause more complications
The options are:
- targeted therapy,
- biological therapy,
- radiation therapy, and
- stem cell transplant.
Sometimes a combination of these treatments is used for a patient. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the type of leukemia (acute or chronic) and the age of the patient.
In conclusion, Leukemia can be deadly, but with early diagnosis and proper treatments, it can reduce the symptoms. It is a very dominant disease and very hard to treat. However medical science is in a process of gradual progression to improve its knowledge and treatment techniques. Hopefully in future the knowledge of Biology would improve to a level such that the cure of leukemia may be less time consuming and far more effective.