Leukemia is a cancer that affects the bone marrow. The bon marrow is the soft spongy center of the bone that produces blood cells. Leukemia is found in white blood cells or leukocytes. The white blood cells help to fight ff infections and other diseases. Normally, cells produce in an orderly way, but people that have leukemia the cell production gets out of control. The marrow produces too many immature white blood cells called blasts. They are differently shaped and can’t carry out their usual duties. When someone has leukemia the white blood cells that form can not help the body fight off infections.
With leukemia people might have frequent infections and have flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills. If the cells multiply and move out into the body, they tend to collect in organs like the liver, or the spleen, it may cause pain and swelling. If the cells collect in the central nervous system, and that may causes headaches, vomiting, confusion, loss of muscle control, it affects red blood cells and platelets, which cause bleeding problems and a disorder called anemia. This causes the person to look pale and feel weak and tired, also bleed or bruise easily, or find that their gums are swollen or bleeding.
Leukemia also causes loss of appetite and/or weight loss; tiny red spots under the skin; sweating, especially at night; and bone or joint pain. The Diagnoses of leukemia starts by going to a doctor usually the doctor will not expect leukemia with the symptoms. But, with those symptoms they start by doing a full physical exam and feel for swelling in the liver, the spleen, and the lymph nodes under the arms, in the groin, and the neck. The doctor will most likely do blood work to determine the number of mature. The blood tests might show the person has leukemia, but not what type it is.
A bone marrow aspiration test might be needed to check for the blood cells that cause leukemia and to see what type of leukemia it is. This test is done by inserting a large needle into the middle of hip bone to get a sample of the yellow spongy marrow. Other tests that may be performed is a spinal tap where you take a sample of the fluid that fills the spaces in and around the brain and spinal cord, so that it can be checked for the cells that cause leukemia. Also, a chest x-rays and special scans can reveal signs of cells other parts of the body.
Leukemia can be diagnosed as acute, chronic, lymphocytic, or myelogenous leukemia. Acute leukemia gets worse quickly, with fast multiplication of abnormal, immature blasts. Chronic leukemia worsens gradually. Abnormal blasts are present, but they are more natural and can carry out some of their functions. Lymphocytic leukemia affects certain white blood cells called lymphocytes, which control the body’s immune response by finding and destroying foreign substances. Myelogenous leukemia affects other types of white blood cells in the bone marrow.
The types of doctors that may diagnosis and/or treats leukemia depending on them are: Oncologist, Hematologist, Pediatric Oncologist, and Pediatric Hematologist. Doctors can’t identify a specific cause of leukemia. But, some risk factors that studies have shown that people that are exposed to high or repeated doses of radiation, “such as Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima. ” (1 pg. 526) People who have been treated with radiation therapy because of other cancers, in both cases you are more than likely to get leukemia. Workers who are exposed to benzene which is found in gasoline, these workers frequently develop it.
It is under research that certain viruses, genes may contribute to leukemia. The cells found in the people with leukemia are found that they often share some genetic abnormalities. Some people think that the low-energy waves given off by high-voltage electric power lines; has to do with childhood leukemia, but studies show no connection. If you are diagnosed with acute leukemia doctors start treating it right away. Acute leukemia worsens quickly; the purpose is to bring a complete remission meaning there is no trace of leukemia in the bone marrow or blood.
After, the doctor gives further treatments to help prevent the return of the signs and symptoms of the disease after an improvement. Most of patient with acute forms of leukemia can be cured today. It is one of the most curable forms of cancer. Chronic leukemia is detected through a routine blood test before symptoms appear. With this people may not need treatment right away if they are not having symptoms yet, the doctors monitor the disease until treatment is needed. Most of the time it cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.
Leukemia most common treatments are: Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, and Bone marrow transplantation, and then there is also Biological therapy. In chemotherapy, patients take one or more anticancer drugs by mouth or, intravenously through IV therapy. In some cases, doctors need to inject the drugs directly into the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Chemo can cause side effects, like losing your hair, nausea, fatigue, or easy bruising, depending on the drug. The side effects usually go away progressively between treatments or after treatments stop.
Radiation therapy is the use special machines to convey high-energy rays that damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. The radiation can be directed to a specific area of the body or the whole body. Some side effects that come from the therapy are fatigue, hair loss, nausea, or red, dry, itchy skin. Bone marrow transplantation, is a combination of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. They give you high doses of both to destroy all of the person’s bone marrow, so it will kill the cells that are the cause of the cancer. The person is then given new healthy bone marrow from a donor whose tissue is similar, blood relation.
They may also give bone marrow that was removed from the patient earlier and specially treated to remove the cancer cells. Someone who receives a bone marrow transplantation is in the hospital for several weeks or even months after the procedure until they can retain their strength and build their immune system up. The long hospitalization stay is because the patient is highly at risk for infection. Until the transplanted bone marrow starts to regenerate the white blood cells the patient is at high risk. Biological therapy is the newest form of treatment under investigation.
It uses substances produced by the body to increase its ability to fight off leukemia. Scientist has been able to identify many substances that are involved in the immune response. The immune responses are what the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and diseases. Some of the substances can be made in the lab and be used to help the body defend itself against leukemia and other forms of cancer. There is no way to prevent leukemia. In the future, with the genetic testing they are currently doing, they hope to find out which patients are more prone to develop leukemia.
But, they say people with direct family who have leukemia should get physical exams regularly. There are no screening tests for leukemia. The reason for screening is for early diagnosis and treatment. Screenings are usually for people with no symptoms but have a high risk. Since there are no screenings for leukemia your physician can order blood counts during physical examinations. In the blood they will look for anemia or changes in white cells, the basic diagnostic test for leukemia. The statistics are: 24% of people with leukemia live for at least five years after they are diagnosed. The survival rate varies on the type of leukemia. ) People with acute lymphoid leukemia such as children have a 90% chance of complete remission, with an 80% five-year survival rate. But with adults it is only 25% to 30% for five years. Acute myeloid leukemia, with proper treatment 70%-80% of people go into remission. About 80% who go into remission will go within a month of induction therapy, but in some patients the disease will come back, and lowering the cure to 40%. Chronic lymphoid leukemia, people with it usually survive nine years, but some have survived as long as 35 years.
In stage I or II, remission occurs in about 70% of people treated with chemo, but it always comes back at some point. Chronic myeloid leukemia, depending on the person’s age, the extent of the disease and the treatments used depends on the survival. 60% of people younger than 40 with mild symptoms survive three years after treatment if they have a bone transplant. Only 15% to 25% of those without a transplant live longer than five years. A few people have lived as long as 20 years. Even the few years of experience with imatinib suggest that the drug will improve survival rates.
Other statistics: The leukemias represented 27% of all cancers occurring among children younger than 20 years from 2000-2004. It is estimated that in 2007, 3,800 children will be diagnosed with leukemia throughout the United States, about 2,790 new cases. Leukemia is one of the top 15 most frequently occurring cancers in minority groups. The rates are substantially higher for Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan natives white and Asian/Pacific islander children than for black children. Hispanic children of all races under the age of 20 have the highest rates of leukemia.
Occurrence rates for all types of leukemia are higher with males than with females. From 2000 – 2004: Incidence Rates by Race Race/EthnicityMaleFemale All Races 16. 0 per 100,000 men9. 5 per 100,000 women White16. 7 per 100,000 men9. 9 per 100,000 women Black13. 2 per 100,000 men8. 1 per 100,000 women Asian/Pacific Islander 9. 2 per 100,000 men5. 9 per 100,000 women American Indian/Alaska Nativea 6. 5 per 100,000 men6. 1 per 100,000 women Hispanicb11. 8 per 100,000 men8. 0 per 100,000 women Death Rates by Race Race/EthnicityMaleFemale All Races 10. 0 per 100,000 men5. 7 per 100,000 women White10. per 100,000 men5. 8 per 100,000 women Black8. 8 per 100,000 men5. 3 per 100,000 women Asian/Pacific Islander 5. 0 per 100,000 men3. 0 per 100,000 women American Indian/Alaska Nativea 5. 6 per 100,000 men4. 1 per 100,000 women Hispanicb6. 4 per 100,000 men4. 1 per 100,000 women 1) Izenberg, Neil M. D. Human Diseases and Conditions. Vol. 2. NY, 2000. pg. 525-528 2) Bunch, Bryan. Diseases Immune System To Multiple Sclerosis. Grolier Educational, 2003. pg. 56-59 3) http://www. leukemia-lymphoma. org/all_page? item_id=9346 4) http://www. intelihealth. com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/8096/24662. html#prognosis