Leukemia 

Definition:

Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue (the bone marrow), and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.

Types of leukemia:

The major types of leukemia are:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukemia in young children. ALL can also occur in adults.
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). AML is a common type of leukemia. It occurs in children and adults. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). With CLL, the most common chronic adult leukemia, you may feel well for years without needing treatment.
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This type of leukemia mainly affects adults.

Signs and symptoms:

Common leukemia signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Swollen lymph node
  • Enlarged  liver or spleen and abdominal pain
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Bone pain or tenderness

Risk factors:

Factors that may increase your risk of developing some types of leukemia include:

  • Previous cancer treatment.
  • Genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome.
  • Certain blood disorders
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals.
  • Smoking.
  • Family history of leukemia.
  • Who are previously Treated for cancer with radiation and chemotherapy, who are taking immune suppressing drugs

However, most people with known risk factors don’t get leukemia. And many people with leukemia have none of these risk factors.

Diagnosis:

  • Complete medical history ·
  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, bone scan
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Surgical lymph node biopsy ·
  • Lumbar puncture

Treatment:

The main type of treatment for leukemia is chemotherapy. This may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Common treatments used to fight leukemia include

  • Chemotherapy.
  • Biological therapy.
  • Targeted therapy.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Surgery-splenectomy (removal of the spleen)

The treatment plan chosen is based on:

  • The type of leukemia
  • The patient’s age
  • White blood cell count
  • Genetics of the cancer
  • Whether or not there was a preleukemic condition or a previously treated cancer.

Prevention:

  1. There is currently no known way to prevent most types of leukemia, especially among children.
  2. Smoking is the most significant avoidable risk factor among adults.
  3. Avoiding chemicals linked with leukemia, such as benzene

Screening:

  • The best way to find leukemia early is to report any symptoms to your health care professional right away.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.
  • Leukemia symptoms are often vague and not specific. You may overlook early leukemia symptoms because they may resemble symptoms of the flu and other common illnesses.
  • Rarely, leukemia may be discovered during blood tests for some other condition.