Leukemia is a type of cancer found in the blood and bone marrow. It is due to the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal production of white blood cells leads to impairment of the bone marrow and failure to fight against infections.
Types of Leukemia
- Acute leukemia. The cancer cells grow and spread faster and affect the body adversely.
- Chronic leukemia. The cancer cells are mature and similar to the cells in the body. The symptoms of chronic leukemia are not noticeable right away.
- Myeloid. It affects myeloid cells that grow into white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
- Lymphocytic or lymphoblastic. It affects lymphoid cells that grow into the white blood cell called a lymphocyte.
The Typical Types of Leukemia
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
Symptoms of Leukemia
- Excessive sweating that occurs intensely at night
- Weakness and fatigue
- Rapid weight loss
- Bone pain and tenderness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Enlarged liver
- Red spots on the skin
- Easy bruising and bleeding
- Chills and fever
- Frequent infections
Leukemia can also cause symptoms in the organs that the cancer cell penetrates. It can spread in the nervous system and cause:
- Loss of muscle control
Causes and Risk Factors of Leukemia
There are no specific causes of leukemia but, there are several risk factors for developing the disease. Some of these risk factors include:
- History of chemotherapy or radiation for other types of cancers
- Down syndrome and other genetic disorders
- Blood disorders
- Exposure to the chemical benzene
- Family history of leukemia
Survival Rate of Leukemia
A recent figure indicates that 61.4% of patients with all types of leukemia survive five years after diagnosis. A 5-year survival rate looks at how many people are still alive five years after their diagnosis. Most people with leukemia are over 55, with a median age of diagnosis of 66.
How to Diagnose Leukemia?
Your doctor will assess your symptoms and the severity of your condition. Diagnostic tests include:
- Blood test. Your doctor may recommend a complete blood count to look at the number and maturity of different types of blood cells.
- Bone marrow biopsy. It involves marrow taken from your pelvic bone with a long needle to determine the type of leukemia.
- Spinal tap. It involves fluid from your spinal cord to determine whether leukemia has spread.
- Imaging tests. CT scan, MRI, and PET scans can spot signs of leukemia.
Treatment for Leukemia
- Anti-cancer drugs
- Radiation therapy
- Biologic therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Stem cell transplant