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  Leukemia

Leukemia is a blood cancer or a bone marrow cancer, whose primary characterization is the over population of blood cells. The blood cells are mostly leukocytes or white blood cells. Leukemia is part of a group of diseases that are under the umbrella of hematological neoplasms. There are four types of leukemia. First leukemia is classified as chronic or acute, based on the abnormal growth rate and the abnormal growth of blood cells. These two classifications are then broken down into what types of blood cells. These classifications are myeloid and lymphoid – the names of the cells affected. Acute leukemia involves progressive and aggressive growth of leukemia cells in the body.

Leukemia Blood disorder
Leukemia


Symptoms:

Symptoms for leukemia are excessive and unusual bruising, bleeding, pin prick bleeds, anemia, dyspnea (difficulty breathing from overexertion), multiple unknown infections due to challenged immune systems, fevers, chills, weaknesses, flu-like symptoms, weight loss, loss of appetite, swollen, bleeding gums, enlarged liver or spleen and headache.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis for Leukemia is begun with a physical exam in which the doctor will check for selling of lymph nodes, liver and spleen. A blood test will check the level of blood cells. Because Leukemia causes a high level of while blood cells and low level of platelets and hemoglobin – a blood test is necessary. Blood tests can also check for indictors of leukemia’s impact on other organs, such as kidney and liver. Another test used to diagnose Leukemia is a bone marrow biopsy. The biopsy takes a small portion of marrow from the hip bone or possibly another bone that is large in the body. Biopsies are examined by pathologists. A pathologist will look at the marrow cancerous cells. Biopsies are important in determining if leukemia is present in an individual’s bone marrow.

Bone marrow biopsies are performed via two methods. Bone marrow aspiration is a procedure in which a needle is used to remove small portions of bone marrow tissue. The other bone marrow biopsy method uses a larger needle to either remove a portion of the bone or a larger portion of tissue (than would be removed with an aspiration). For both procedures, local anesthesia and sedatives are used to ease patient’s discomfort.

Cytogenetics takes a chromosome level look at cells from blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes. A spinal tap will enable lab technicians to check for leukemia cells in the spinal fluid or other complications. A chest x-ray is used to check for signs of leukemia in the chest.

Cause:

In some cases, the cause of Leukemia can not be linked to a single factor. There are specific external exposures that may explain the onset of Leukemia – for example, radiation or toxic chemicals in the environment of the individual with leukemia. Factors such as genetics and family history or damage to chromosomes via genetic disorders have also explained the onset of Leukemia.

Treatment:

Treatment options for leukemia depend on the type of leukemia and the age and health of the patient.

There are four common types of leukemia:

• Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia CLL
• Chronic Myeloid Leukemia CML
• Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia ALL
• Acute Myeloid Leukemia AML

Finding a leukemia treatment center is important in getting appropriate treatment for the type of leukemia the patient has. Treatment includes a pre-treatment work up – such as a pre-fertility treatment, which involves freezing sperm or eggs for patients who want to have children or more children. Options for leukemia treatment include chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy or bone marrow transplant. In some patients an enlarged spleen may have to be removed. Doctors will review side effects and expected results with patients before pursuing treatment for leukemia. Some patients may have a combination of therapies and treatment for leukemia.

Acute forms of leukemia require treatment to begin immediately or as soon as possible. The objective of treating acute leukemia is to bring about a remission. A remission is when the signs and symptoms disappear. During remission, a leukemia patient may be treated with a preventative therapy to avoid a relapse. Acute leukemia can be cured.

Individuals with chronic forms of leukemia may not have to start therapy immediately. A doctor will suggest, based on lab results a method called ‘watchful waiting.’ This is usually approached with lymphocytic leukemia. The health care team responsible for treatment will monitor the patient’s symptoms and health. If the symptoms worsen or new alarming symptoms appear, treatment will begin. Treatment for chronic leukemia is targeted at controlling the disease and symptoms. Chronic leukemia is difficult to be cured. Certain therapies may be able to keep the cancer in remission.

Besides addressing the leukemia itself, patients will need to manage pain and other symptoms of the blood cancer. Medication to relieve the side affects from therapeutic treatment should also be considered by the leukemia patients. Side affects can be physical and emotional. This treatment is referred to as palliative care or symptom management or supportive care.

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