Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. There are numerous broad groups of blood cells, including red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. Mostly, leukemia refers to cancers of the WBCs.
WBCs are a vital part of your immune system. They defend your body from conquest by bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as from abnormal cells and other foreign substancesIn leukemia, the WBCs don’t work like ordinary WBCs. They can likewise separate excessively fast and in the end swarm out ordinary cells.
Risk factors for leukemia
The causes of leukemia aren’t known. However, several factors have been identified which may increase your risk. These include:
- a family history of leukemia
- smoking, which increases your risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- genetic disorders such as Down syndrome
- blood disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, which is sometimes called “preleukemia”
- previous treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or radiation
- exposure to high levels of radiation
- exposure to chemicals such as benzene
The types of leukemia
The onset of leukemia can be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (slow onset). In acute leukemia, cancer cells multiply quickly. In chronic leukemia, the disease growths slowly and early symptoms may be very mild.
Leukemia is also classified concurring to the type of cell. Leukemia involving myeloid cells is called myelogenous leukemia. Myeloid cells are immature blood cells that’d normally become granulocytes or monocytes. Leukemia involving lymphocytes is called lymphocytic 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. A person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years before entering a phase in which the leukemia cells grow more quickly.
- Other types. Other, rarer types of leukemia exist, including hairy cell leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders.
Causes of leukaemia
The reasons for intense leukemia is obscure, yet factors that put a few people at higher danger are:
introduction to exceptional radiation
introduction to specific synthetic concoctions, for example, benzene
infections like the Human T-Cell leukemia infection.
The vast majority determined to have interminable myeloid leukemia have an unusual chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. It has likewise been connected to introduction to significant levels of radiation.
As a rule, leukemia is thought to happen when some platelets obtain changes in their DNA — the directions inside every cell that control its activity. There might be different changes in the cells that still can’t seem to be completely perceived that could add to leukemia.
Certain anomalies cause the cell to develop and partition all the more quickly and to keep living when typical cells would kick the bucket. After some time, these unusual cells can swarm out solid platelets in the bone marrow, prompting less sound white platelets, red platelets and platelets, causing the signs and indications of leukemia
Diagnosis of leukaemia
If your doctor suspects you may have a form of leukaemia, you will have one or more of the following tests to help diagnose, and determine the type of leukaemia:
An initial blood test will show if leukaemia cells are present in the blood or if the levels of blood cells are different to what would be expected in a healthy person.
Bone marrow biopsy
A small amount of bone marrow is removed from the hip bone (pelvic bone) using a long needle. As the procedure can be uncomfortable and even painful, a local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area and you may be given some pain-killers. It is common for children to have a general anaesthetic.
A chest x-ray is taken to check the heart and lungs, and to see whether there are enlarged lymph nodes in the chest.
This test shows if any leukaemia cells have travelled to the fluid around your spine.
Fluid is removed with a thin needle from a space between the bones in the lower back. This takes a few minutes, but as it can be uncomfortable, your doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area.
Treatment of leukaemia
Treatment relies upon the sort of leukemia. Intense leukaemias grow rapidly and should be dealt with desperately, normally inside 24 hours of analysis.
Chest x-beam, CT examine and lumbar cut decide whether the leukemia has spread.
Cytogenetic examination additionally might be utilized, to search for chromosomal changes.
For acute myeloid leukaemia and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia there is no standard staging system; the disease is described as untreated, in remission, or recurrent.
Organizing of incessant myelogenous leukemia is portrayed in three stages:
chronic – a few blast cells are found in the blood and bone marrow
accelerated – following a couple of years the leukemia may out of nowhere change and become faster
blast – the quantity of blast cells increases, causing symptoms to worsen. Blast cells often spread to other organs.
Interminable myelogenous leukemia is depicted as stage 0 to IV, controlled by the lymphocytes in the blood, size of lymph hubs and organs, for example, liver and spleen (bigger = higher stage) and effect on red platelets and platelets (less = higher stage).
Common treatment options are:
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplantation
- radiation therapy to the head
- steroid therapy.
Acute myeloid leukaemia
- peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplantation
- radiation therapy to the head.
Chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia
- watchful waiting
- radiation therapy
- chemotherapy (chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is being tested in clinical trials)
- surgery (removal of spleen)
- monoclonal antibody therapy.
Chronic myeloid leukaemia
- tyrosine kinase inhibitory therapy
- biologic therapy
- high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
- donor lymphocyte infusion
- surgery (removal of spleen).
Depending on your treatment, your treatment team may consist of a number of different health professionals, such as:
- GP (General Practitioner)- looks after your general health and works with your specialiststo coordinate treatment.
- Haematologist- specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases of the blood and lymphatic system.
- Radiation oncologist- prescribes and coordinates radiation therapy treatment.
- Cancer nurses- assist with treatment and provide information and support throughout your treatment.
- Cancer care coordinators- coordinate your care, liaise with the multidisciplinary team and support you and your family throughout treatment.
- Other allied health professionals- such as social workers, pharmacists and counsellors.