Leukemia - Symptoms & Treatment
Leukemia is a form of cancer that begins in the blod-forming cells of the bone marrow the soft inner part of the bones. All cancers begin in cells, which make up blood and other tissues. Under normal circumstances, your white blood cells are potent infection fighters. Known as leukocytes, these cells are so plentiful in some patients that the blood actually has a whitish tinge. Eventually, they block production of normal white blood cells, impairing your ability to fight off infection. Over time, the leukemic cells spread through the bloodstream where they continue to divide, sometimes forming tumors and damaging organs such as the kidney and liver. Since the spleen is responsible for filtering the blood and destroying old cells, it may become enlarged and swollen with the abnormal cells, as can the liver and lymph nodes. Leukemia cells also crowd out other types of blood cells produced by the bone marrow, including red blood cells, which carry oxygen to tissues throughout your body, and platelets, which help form blood clots. Leukemia has four main types and many subtypes and only some of them are common among children. Treatment of leukemia is complex and it depends on your age and health, the type of leukemia and how far it has spread.
Leukemia is a bone marrow disorder that arises when one abnormal white blood cell begins to continuously replicate itself. Leukemia, which literally means "white blood" in Greek, occurs when there is an excess of abnormal white blood cells in the blood. The disease usually starts in the white blood cells. The blood-forming (hematopoietic) cells of the bone marrow make leukocytes to defend the body against infectious organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. If the cells reach the central nervous system and build up in the cerebrospinal fluid that support s the brain and spinal column, they can cause headaches and seizures. Lymphocytes, which are found in both the blood stream and the lymphatic system, coordinate the immune response and produce antibodies. If untreated, the surplus leukemic cells overwhelm the bone marrow, enter the bloodstream, and eventually invade other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). In this way, the behavior of leukemia is different than that of other cancers, which usually begin in major organs and ultimately spread to the bone marrow.
Causes of Leukemia
The common Causes of Leukemia :
- We do not know what causes leukemia.
- These are only risk factors. Most people who have one of the risk factors do not get leukemia.
- If you think your child is at risk for leukemia, talk with your doctor.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Very high levels of radiation
- Some viruses like Human T-cell leukemia virus
- Working with chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde
Symptoms of Leukemia
Some Symptoms of Leukemia :
- Neurological symptoms ( headache ).
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Swollen or bleeding gums.
- Loss of appetite and/or weight.
- Shortness of breath when you're physically active, as while climbing steps.
- Fever , chills, and other flu-like symptoms.
- Enlarged liver and spleen.
- Frequent infections.
- Bone pain or tenderness.
- Night sweats
- Problems breathing
Treatment of Leukemia
- The abnormal cells are killed by medicines. Chemotherapy can be taken by mouth, by shots, or given into a vein (intravenously).
- High-energy x-rays are used to kill abnormal cells.
- After radiation and chemotherapy kills the abnormal bone marrow, healthy bone marrow from a healthy donor is given to a patient through a vein. The healthy bone marrow goes to the patient's bones and makes healthy blood cells. Most children with leukemia will not need a bone marrow transplant.
- Surgery to remove an enlarged spleen or to install a venous access device (large plastic tube) to give medications and withdraw blood samples.
- Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells by exposure to high-energy radiation.
- Some people with leukemia choose to enroll in clinical trials to try out experimental treatments or new combinations of known therapies.