Leukemia is the most dangerous type of cancer in which the blood cells mainly the white blood cells become affected. These cells are the abnormal cells which differ in appearance from healthy blood cells and do not function effectively.
Leukemia is caused due to the infection of two types of cells. If the lymphoid cells are affected, the disease is called Lymphocyte Leukemia and if the myeloid cells are affected, it is called Myelogenous Leukemia. Depending on the rate of growth leukemia may be acute or chronic. Acute Leukemia: the affected cells divide and grows rapidly and do not work normally. Loss of muscle controls, vomiting, and seizures are the symptoms of acute leukemia. Sores in the eyes or on the skin may produce. In some cases leukemia may collect in the testicles and produce swelling. Chronic Leukemia: Chronic leukemia cells grow slowly. In the initial stage symptoms are not found but in the later stages when the leukemia cells increases in the blood symptoms are detected.
Types of leukemia
there are mainly four types of leukemia
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
this type of leukemia is mainly found in children and in some cases of adults over the age of 65. It is rarely found in the age group of 20-65.
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
this type of leukemia is found in adults and rarely in children.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
This type of leukemia mainly affects adults of the age group of over 55 and rarely Young. It is not found in children.
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
This type of leukemia is mainly found in adults and rarely children.
Causes of Leukemia
There are many factors that induce Leukemia. These are the following:
- Workers working with chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde are at a greater risk of developing leukemia.
- High-level exposure to radiations may induce leukemia.
- Cancer fighting drugs, which are used by cancer patients, may induce leukemia.
- Smoking induces AML
- Family life history of leukemia.
- People diseased with Myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disease; possess higher risk of developing leukemia.
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck or armpit
- Swelling of liver, spleen
- Petechiae - tiny pinpoint red spots under the skin
- Anemia - red blood cells are unhealthy
- Shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains
- Swelling or discomfort in the abdomen (from an enlarged spleen)
- Chronic infections
- Loss of appetite and hence weight loss
- Loss of muscle control
After carefully looking at the symptoms of leukemia the doctor may ask about the family medical history of the patient. After that ask for the following tests
- The doctor checks for swelling of the lymph nodes, spleen and liver.
- Leukemia causes a very high level of leukocytes and low level of platelets hemoglobin.
- Cytogenetics- chromosomes of cells from samples of peripheral blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes should be examined.
- Chest X-ray will show the effect of leukemia in the chest.
- Biopsy- The doctor extracts a small part of bone marrow from a large bone and examines it under the microscope. Biopsy is the sure way for the detection of leukemia.
Spinal tap-The doctor removes some of the cerebrospinal fluid and the lab checks the fluid for leukemia cells or other signs of problems