Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. It leads to the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells. However, it occurs in the bone marrow where blood cells are produced.
So, it is classified into two:
- Progression of the disease.
- Acute leukemia- here cell division is rapid thus giving rise to immature cells which can’t carry out their functions normally. The disease progression is quick and for a short period of time. It is life-threatening thus initiation of therapy should not be delayed.
- Chronic leukemia – it’s slow thus one may not exhibit symptoms for years, common in adults.
2. The cell type.
- Myeloid leukemia -affects the myeloid cells. They are the ones that give rise to the platelets, red blood cells, the white blood cells.
- Lymphocytic – affects the lymphoid cells that form lymphoid tissues.
Types of leukemia.
- Acute lymphocytic.
- Acute myelogenous.
- Chronic lymphocytic.
- Chronic myelogenous.
Signs of leukemia.
- One frequently gets infections.
- Pale skin.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Bone and joint pain.
- Easily bruising or bleeding.
- Body fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Enlarged lymph nodes.
- Family history.
- Smokers are at a higher risk of getting acute myelogenous.
- Previous cancer treatment.
- Genetic disorders e.g. down syndrome.
- Product consumption e.g. benzene.
- Exposure to industrial chemicals.
- Physical examination by asking questions and feeling the lymph nodes.
- Blood cell examination- tests like complete blood count, and peripheral blood smear.
- Bone marrow biopsy or bone marrow aspiration.
- Imaging tests e.g. x-ray, CT scan, and MRI.
- Lumbar puncture.
- Targeted therapy- block any abnormalities in cancer cell thus killing them.
- Chemotherapy- is the major treatment, that uses chemical drugs to kill its cells.
- Immunotherapy- uses the immune system to fight leukemia.
- Bone marrow transplant- also known as stem cells. Helps by replacing the bone marrow with leukemia-free stem cells that regenerate to a healthy bone marrow.
- Radiation therapy- the leukemia cells are exposed to energy beams that damage them and stop their growth.