Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells or the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissues found inside your bones where blood cells are made. When one has leukemia, the bone marrow tends to make more white blood cells than it should. By time, Its cells start crowding out the normal blood cells which then begins to result in anemia, bleeding and infections. They may also spread to other parts of the body, mainly the lymph nodes, causing swelling and pain. This time, HNBT takes a look into leukemia symptoms, types of leukemia and the process of chemotherapy.
Types Of Leukemia
This cancer can be classified into two main forms;
- Acute leukemia.
It is when a rapid increase in the number of immature cells in present. Crowding of immature blood cells disables the bone marrows from producing healthy blood cells. This is normally the most common type of condition among children. It requires immediate treatment as its rapid accumulation of the malignant cells may infect the bloodstream and later spread to other organs of the body.
- Chronic leukemia.
It is when excessive number of matured, but still abnormal white blood cells are produced. It is slow in progress, but may produce more cells than its normal rate, resulting in the accumulation of abnormal white blood cells. It normally occurs in older people. This form is monitored for some time and may require some time before the therapy. It will first show some mild leukemia symptoms.
Lymphoblastic – affects the white blood cells, lymphocytes, which are infection-fighting immune system cells.
Myeloid – affects the white blood cells, myelocytes, platelets and a type of red blood cell.
Symptoms however may vary, depending on the types you’re having. Anyway, here are the top 10 symptoms of leukemia ( the most common signs):
- Fever and chills ( one of childhood leukemia symptoms)
- Night sweats
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Swollen lymph nodes (armpits, neck) and enlarged liver
- Bone or joint pain
- Formation of tiny red spots on skin
What Causes Leukemia?
What exactly triggers this cancer is not known. But however, experts have identified several factors that may increase the risk of the same. This causes are said to trigger early leukemia signs in adults :
- Exposure to large amounts of radiations (includes the UV radiation)
- Exposure to chemicals
- Chemotherapy ( if you have underwent chemo to treat another type of cancer)
- Down syndrome or similar genetic problems
Chemotherapy & Other Treatments For Leukemia
It can be cured though several types of treatments, mainly chemotherapy, however depending on its severity. The cells need to be destroyed in order for the bone marrows to begin producing normal blood cells again. There few treatments available for treating leukemia.
Chemotherapy is the major treatment used in treating most types of cancer, especially the acute leukemia. In chemotherapy, there are induction (kills related cells), consolidation ( to kill any dangerous cells) and maintenance ( prevents remaining cells from growing). However, if the cancerous cells have spread to the spinal cord and the brain, chemotherapy will not be able to reach those areas. This is because your body has set up special barriers to protect them. In this condition, intrathecal chemotherapy is used. Intrathecal chemotherapy is the injection of the drugs directly into your spinal canals to destroy any cancerous cells there.
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2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is done by giving doses of external radiation, like the X-ray that directs to the cancer. Radiation therapy can also be used to destroy leukemia cells that have spread to the spinals cord and brain.
3. Stem cell transplant
This might be a treatment for those who have high risk of acute leukemia. Most stem cells transplants for this cancer are donated by someone else. Stem cell transplant will destroy all the cells in your bones marrow, including the cancerous cells and replace them with new cells. It also helps rebuild your immune systems and completely improve the skin signs.
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4. Clinical trials and other treatments
This helps in the research for more ways to treatment. These treatments are normally clinical trials, and are not secured to be used on a patient. At the same time, other treatments include surgeries, biological therapy and targeted therapy.
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Home remedies for leukemia are worth of a try, but are not proven to cure this cancer completely. However, mangosteens, green tea, fish oils and rosemary extracts have been said to help improve leukemia symptoms. You might want to give a try to these. After all, there is no harm in trying. If there are any home remedies you know that helps in this disease, do share them with us.
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