Leukaemia - Health Center

Leukaemia

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Fighting Back With Leukaemia

Leukaemia is the cancer which affects the blood forming tissues of the body. These include the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Though different types of leukaemia exist, the one which affects the children is the most common of them all. Leukaemia tends to start with the white blood cells of the body, which are the potent fighters against all kinds of infections and foreign microbes. The White Blood Cells grow and divide in a very orderly way as required by the body to fight against the infections. However, when a person is afflicted with Leukaemia, the bone marrow’s production of the White Blood Cells becomes hampered and uneven. Depending on the type of leukaemia from which a person is suffering, there are different treatment options available.

Causes for Leukaemia:

There is no definite known cause for Leukaemia. However, there are many contributing factors towards it. Leukaemia is basically known to occur when the blood cells acquire the mutations in the DNA. With certain abnormalities, the cells grow and divide very rapidly. They also continue to live on, when the normal cells die. Then these abnormal cells grow on, they crowd the healthy cells in the bone marrow.

Classifications of Leukaemia:

The Leukaemia is based on the speed of spreading as well as the type of cells which are involved in the spreading. The type of classification is as follows:

  • Acute Leukaemia: In this, the abnormal blood cells are just like an immature blood cells. They do not tend to do the normal work as the other cells and tend to multiply very rapidly. This kind of leukaemia spreads very rapidly and requires a very timely treatment.
  • Chronic Leukaemia: In this kind of leukaemia, the mature blood cells are affected. In this, the blood cells accumulate slowly as compared in the case of Acute Leukaemia. This disease spreads normally over a longer period of time and there are no known earlier symptoms which may go unnoticed for a long period of time.
  • Lymphocytic Leukaemia: In this, the lymphoid cells or lymphocytes are affected. These cells form the lymphatic system, which is an integral part of the immune system.
  • Myelogenous Leukaemia: In this, the myeloid cells are affected which give rise to the white blood cells as well as the platelet producing cells.

 Signs and Symptoms of Leukaemia:

The signs of Leukaemia vary from one person to the other. Some of the major signs however, are as follows:

  •   Fever and chills
  •   Fatigue and weakness all over the world
  •   Infections which are frequent in nature
  •   Loss of weight
  •   Swelling in the lymph nodes
  •   Enlargement in the liver and spleen
  •   Bleeding and bruising
  •   Nosebleeds
  •   Pain and tenderness in the bones

If you are witnessing any of these signs persistently, it is recommended to see a doctor about it immediately. The symptoms of the disease often tend to be vague sometimes and can resemble the symptoms of common flu. Blood tests are one of the best ways for the determination of the condition.

Tests and Diagnosis for Leukaemia:

Chronic Leukaemia can be easily diagnosed with the help of a blood test. However, if you are observing any of the above mentioned symptoms, the doctor may recommend some of the normal routine tests, such as:

ü  Physical Examination: In this, the doctor looks for some of the physical signs for the disease such as paleness of the skin resulting for anaemia as well as swelling in the lymph nodes, liver as well as the spleen.

ü  Blood Tests: These are done with a sample of the blood. In this, the doctor can easily determine any abnormalities in the level of the white blood cells and the platelets, which suggests leukaemia.

ü  Bone Marrow Tests: in this, a small sample of the bone marrow is removed from the hipbone of the affected person. This is done with the help of a long, thin needle. Then, this sample is sent to the laboratory for the diagnosis in which the analyst looks for the leukaemia cells. Certain tests are done for leukaemia cells in order to look for a specific treatment option for the disease.

There are certain other tests that can be done in order to diagnose the disease and its extent all over the body. The disease can be easily classified into stages, which tend to provide the doctor and the patient an insight into the severity of the same. Depending on the stage of the disease, the treatment options can be looked into.

Treatment of Leukaemia:

The treatment for Leukaemia is greatly dependent on different factors. On the basis of your age as well as the overall condition of the affected person, some of the common treatments are as follows:

ü  Chemotherapy: This is one of the major forms for the treatment of Leukaemia. In this, drugs are used in order to kill the leukaemia cells. Often, a single injection of the drug, or a combination of drugs are given to the person. Also, in many cases the drugs come in the form of a pill, or they can be prescribed intravenously.

ü  Biological Therapy: In this, the immune system of the affected person is taught to recognize and therefore attack the leukaemia cells as a form of the internal defence system of the body.

ü  Targeted Therapy: In this, specific drugs are used that attack the cancer cells within the body. For instance, imatinib, a very successful drug for the treatment of the disease goes out to stop the action of the protein within the leukaemia cells and can be used for the treatment of the chronic Myelogenous leukaemia.

ü  Radiation Therapy: In this, the x rays or any other high energy beams are used on the leukaemia cells in order to stop their growth. The patient is made to lie on the table and high power beams are targeted on the precise position of the body to damage the cells.

ü  Stem Cell Transplant: This is a recent procedure in which the damaged bone marrow of the person is replaced with a new, healthy one. Before a person goes for the Stem Cell transplant, he undergoes chemotherapy and radiation both in order to destroy the existent bone marrow. After this, the new blood forming stem cells are injected in order to help the body to form and rebuild a new bone marrow.

In many cases, the stem cells can either be extracted from a donor, or sometimes, one’s own stem cells are used for this treatment option. A stem cell transplant bears a huge resemblance to the bone marrow transplant.

 

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