What is Leukemia?
An abnormal growth in the number of cells, specifically, white blood cells (WBCs) are called as Leukemia. The WBCs force out other red blood cells and platelets. The increased white blood cells do not function well and are immature. Leukemia in children is more common than in adults. Every day, there are hundreds of billion cells that are produced in the body, most of which are red blood cells. In people affected with Leukemia, the production of white blood cells is more than required. Many of them do not mature and are unable to fight infection.
Leukemia causes are unknown. However, there are a few abnormal conditions that have been related to it. Mostly, people with acute lymphocytic leukemia or chronic myeloid leukemia tend to have Philadelphia chromosome in their bone marrow and white blood cells. In other types of leukemia, the abnormality is an acquired one, neither is it inherited nor passed on to the offspring. The other genetic disorders related to this are Bloom Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Immune Deficiency Disorders and others. There are environmental factors which may also lead to this such as persistent exposure to radiation, exposure to several chemicals and non-ionizing radiation. Family history may also be one of the causes.
There are mainly four types of leukemia:
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): This occurs when cells have not matured and the bone marrow starts to make blasts which usually grow into white blood cells. The bone marrow may also create abnormal platelets and red blood cells. AML has eight different subtypes which are based on the particular cell that leukemia began from.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): The birth of these cells begins from the bone marrow and spreads to the blood, thereafter. The disease spreads to other parts of the body eventually over a period of time. CML is specifically associated with the Philadelphia chromosome. It can also spread to any organ in the body.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL): This type of blood cancer progresses fast and replaces the cells that produce functional lymphocytes. This is associated with B lymphatic cells in comparison to T cells. The dividing, growing, and spreading of leukemia cells may result in further symptoms.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): A slow-growing type of cancer which occurs in the bone marrow than to the blood and can further spread to the spleen and the liver. However, this may take many years to develop before it becomes serious.
Leukemia early symptoms include poor appetite, bruising, bleeding, stomach ache, trouble in breathing, frequent infections, swelling, bone and joint pain, anaemia, and others. The symptoms also vary depending upon the age as well as how much of the cancer has grown. In adults, it may also be night sweats, frequent fevers, bone pain, weight loss, swollen gland in the neck, groin or underarm and feeling tired unknowingly.Leukemia treatment aims at destroying the infected cells and enable the normal cells to create in the bone marrow. All the decisions related to its treatment are based on the stage, the kind of leukemia, the age and the health of the patient. Max Healthcare, Apollo, Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and many other hospitals in India provide treatment for Leukemia.