What Is It? Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the tissue that forms blood.
What are the two types of Leukemia? Chronic Leukemia: –The leukemia cells can still do some of the work of normal white blood cells –People may not have any symptoms at first –Gradually this type of leukemia gets worse Acute Leukemia: –The leukemia cells can no longer do any of the work of normal white blood cells –The number of leukemia cells in the body increases quickly –Acute leukemia often worsens much faster
But before we can understand cancer, it is important to know how normal blood cells form.
Normal Blood Cells Mostly all blood cells develop from cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. (Bone marrow is the soft material in the center of most bones) Stem cells often mature into many different kinds of blood cells. Each kind has a special job:
Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
Platelets help form blood clots that control bleeding.
When a person has leukemia, the body’s bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. In contrast to normal blood cells, leukemia cells DON’T die when they should. They might crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
What causes it? Although no one knows the exact causes of this type of cancer, there are a few risk factors for leukemia: Very high levels of radiation- people who are often exposed to high levels of radiation of are at high risk for developing leukemia. (high levels of radiation from things such as: atomic bomb explosions, and nuclear plant accidents Working with certain chemicals- being exposed to very high levels of chemicals in the workplace (such as Benzene or Formaldehyde ) can cause leukemia. Chemotherapy- patients with cancer who are treated with certain cancer-fighting drugs sometimes later develop leukemia.
What are the symptoms? The symptoms of Acute Leukemia are: –Tiredness –Shortness of breath –Pale skin –Mild fever –Bruises –Vomiting –Headache –Bone pain The symptoms of Chronic Leukemia are: –Weight loss –Recurring infections –Abnormal blood count –Enlarged lymph nodes –Enlarged spleen –Excessive sweating –Pale skin
How is it treated? People with leukemia have many treatment options: –These options are watchful waiting, chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, radiation therap and stem cell transplant –A doctor may suggest surgery if your spleen is enlarged People with chronic leukemia may not need cancer treatment right away. You doctor will watch your health closely so that proper treatment can be started when you begina to have symptoms. People with acute must be treated right away. The main goal of treatment is to destroy all signs of leukemia in the body and make all the symptoms go away. This is called remission. Once people go into remission, more therapy can be given to prevent a relapse. Many people with acute leukemia can be cured.
So what next? Leukemia and its treatment can lead to other health problems. You can have supportive care before, during, or after the treatment. Supportive care is treatment to fight or prevent infections, to control pain and other symptoms, to reduce the side effects of therapy, and to help you cope with the feelings that a diagnosis of cancer can bring. You many be given supportive care to prevent these problems and to improve your comfort and quality of life during treatment.
How is it prevented? There aren’t any known facts of how to prevent leukemia. Limiting the risk factors that we discussed above will help limit your chances of getting this type of cancer.
Statistics: -An estimated 245,225 people in the United States are living with, or are in remission from, leukemia -An estimated 44,790 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in the United States in 2009 -Chronic leukemias account for 11 percent more cases than acute leukemias. -Leukemia is expected to strike more than 10 times as many adults as children in 2009.
Resources Webpage Medicine Net. (1996-2009). Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.medicinenet.com/leukemia/article.htm http://www.medicinenet.com/leukemia/article.htm Webpage Canadian Cancer Society. (Last modified July 22, 2009). Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.cancer.ca/canada- wide/about%20cancer/types%20of%20cancer/what%20is%20leukemia.aspx?sc_lang =enhttp://www.cancer.ca/canada- wide/about%20cancer/types%20of%20cancer/what%20is%20leukemia.aspx?sc_lang =en Webpage Leukemia-Cure. (2009). Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.leukemia- cure.com/leukemia-symptoms.htmlhttp://www.leukemia- cure.com/leukemia-symptoms.html Webpage Cancer Compass. (2009). Retrieved December 3, 2009 from http://www.cancercompass.com/leukemia-information/causes-and-risk-factors.htm http://www.cancercompass.com/leukemia-information/causes-and-risk-factors.htm