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What Is The Truth About Leukemia, And What Can It Mean To Me?

Aug 17, 2007
Leukemia hits about 10 times more children than adults. The ACS or American Cancer Society calculates that this year, approximately 30 thousand new cases of leukemia of 2 thousand children and about 27 thousand adults in the U.S. will be diagnosed.

Leukemia, a type of cancer, starts in the inner, soft portion of your blood-forming cell bones, known as bone marrows. This happens when excessive growth of white blood cells is present in your blood, referred to as leukocytes.

Under normal conditions, the blood-forming or hematopoietic cells in your bone marrow produce leukocytes in order to protect your body from infection caused by bacteria and viruses.

However, when some of the leukocytes are broken and stay in their immature state, they turn out to be poor fighters of infection that excessively multiply and never die as should be the case.

Leukemic cells then build up and decrease the manufacturing of oxygen-carrying eythrocytes (red blood cells), normal leukocytes and platelets (blood clotting cells)If left untreated, then the excess leukemic cells overpower your bone marrow and enter your bloodstream, eventually invading other body parts like the spleen, lymph nodes, liver as well as the central nervous system consisting of the spinal cord and brain.

Leukemia symptoms

In children, due to defect of white blood cells that fight infection, they can experience intensified infections and fever episodes.

Other common leukemia symptoms include:

1. Bleed and bruise very easily, going through recurrent nosebleeds or bleed unusually long after going thru minor cuts.

2. Aching joints or inside the bones, sometimes bringing about a limp

3. Swollen or inflamed lymph nodes

4. Poor appetite

5. Abnormal tired feeling

6. Become anemic and experience shortness of breath during playing.

Forms of leukemia

Leukemia and leukemia symptoms can be either chronic or acute and myelogenous or lymphocytic.

In acute leukemia, the abnormally produced blood cells generally are blasts which remained immature thus can not anymore perform their normal tasks. The blasts rapidly increase so the disease quickly worsens.

In chronic leukemia, a few blast cells can be present but generally these are more mature or developed cells that can perform some normal tasks.

These cells appear to be mature but not entirely normal, because these live much longer and result to certain types of white blood cells accumulation. The blasts increases not as rapidly as in acute leukemia, therefore worsens gradually.

Myelogenous and Lymphocytic leukemia refers to the 2 different types of cells where leukemia began. Lymphocytic leukemia grow from lymphocytes and Myelogenous leukemia grow from monocyte white blood cells or granulocyte white blood cells.

Treatment

There are 2 stages of luekemia treatment namely induction therapy and maintenance therapy. The main focus in induction therapy is to lessen leukemic cells and induce a remission.

Remission is the stage whereby the cancer already is responding well to treatment or it is under control.

Remission may be either complete or partial. When the cancer is within complete remission all symptoms and signs of the cancer disappears. Partial remission means the cancer has shrunk but did not disappear completely.

Remissions may last from several number of weeks to years. Complete remissions can go on for years and can be confirmed cures.

The second stage of leukemia treatment happens after an individual suffering from leukemia goes totally into remission. This stage aims to kill remaining cancer cells and extend the remission period for as prolonged as possible.

1. Chemotherapy uses drugs in order to kill leukemia cancer cells.

2. Radiation therapy employs x-rays or other forms of high-energy rays in order to shrink tumors and kill leukemia cancer cells.

3. Bone marrow transplant is a procedure wherein the patient's affected bone marrow is changed with a healthy marrow.

Note that most cancers may be prevented or avoided by making changes in your diet or lifestyle which can lessen risk factors. In leukemia, unfortunately no risk factors are known; therefore it is difficult to prevent it.
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