What is Leukemia?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leukemia is a form of cancer that develops in the bone marrow of human beings. Leukemia is usually caused by an uncontrolled production of blood cells. Those blood cells that produce at astronomical rates are the white blood cells. There are two forms of leukemia; acute leukemia and chronic leukemia.
Acute leukemia makes the bone marrow extremely crowded and prevents the bone marrow from producing healthy blood cells.
 This type of leukemia occurs mostly in children and long adults. In children, this is an extremely common cause of death and should be treated immediately. If not treated immediately, the malignant cells will spread to other tissues and organs throughout the body.

Chronic leukemia usually takes months or sometimes even years to develop in one’s body and progress to the state of acute leukemia. Chronic leukemia is most common to occur in older adults but there is the possibility of it occurring in any age group. Once detected, treatment isn’t necessarily needed immediately. Sometimes doctors will hold off on treatment to find the best way to handle the disease after they monitor its development.
There is no definitive way to prevent leukemia but avoiding such risk factors as smoking, avoiding exposure to chemicals and avoiding exposure to radiation might help prevent the development of leukemia.
Below are the symptoms of leukemia:
• Dizziness

• Nausea

• Swollen tonsils

• Fever, chills, night sweats and other flu-like symptoms

• Bone pain

• Joint pain

• Unintentional weight loss

• Paleness

• Weakness and fatigue

• Diarrhea

• Malaise

• Swollen or bleeding gums

• Frequent infection

• Enlarged liver and spleen

• Constant headaches

For each different type of leukemia, acute and chronic, there are different types of treatments. For acute leukemia patients are treated by induction chemotherapy. Induction chemotherapy is when doctors use different medicines to bring about new bone marrow remission. Treatments also include eliminating any remaining leukemia cells; which is called consolidation therapy. There is also preventative therapy. Preventative therapy is the process of preventing the cancer from spreading to the brain and the nervous system. If the patient is not responding to any of these treatments then doctors will recommend a bone marrow transplantation procedure. Many cases of acute leukemia can be cured and some of them might not be cured.
For chronic leukemia there is no definite cure. Most treatments are combined with chemotherapy and medicinal shots of prednisone and prednisolone. Despite the lack of a cure for chronic leukemia, these cases can be controlled for long periods of time without any setbacks.
There are four factors in determining how well the body will respond to leukemia treatment. Those four factors are the age of the patient, the percentages of leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow, the degree to which specific systems of the body are affected by the leukemia and if there are any chromosome abnormalities in the leukemia cells.

Leukemia patients can seek counseling and support groups through the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

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