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Cancer is disease whereby cells multiply without control. Therefore, Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and leads to the excess production of the leukocytes (white blood cells) in the human body. In general leukemia can either be acute (fast developing) and chronic (slow developing). This is further sub-divided depending on the specific lymphyocytes or myelocytes connected to the immune system. (Youngson, 2004)Therefore, there are four types of leukemia namely: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). (Russell La Fayette Cecil, 2004)
ACUTE LYMPHOCYTIC LEUKEMIA (ALL)
The acute lymphocytic leukemia mainly affects the children and in some cases the adults mostly the ones aged 65 years and above. This type of leukemia is caused by uncontrolled creation of the white blood cells known as the lymphocytes which causes a rise in number of the immature lymphocytes. As time goes by, the immature lymphocytes outnumber the ordinary lymphocytes in the bone marrow and infiltrate organs causing illness or even loss of life.
The acute lymphocytic leukemia has no defined causes, but there are few factors that may lead to contracting ALL. These include, certain chromosome problems, exposure to radiation or exposure to x-rays before birth, past treatment with chemotherapy drugs, receiving a bone marrow transplant, toxins such as benzene and a person with Down syndrome or other genetic disorders have a high chance of contracting the ALL.
(Longe, 2004)A person suffering from ALL may have the following symptoms: The patient is likely to bleed a lot since the immature white blood cells have outnumbered the normal blood cells and platelets; pain at the joints, bones; tiresomeness; fever; lack of appetite and possibly loss of weight; sweating during the night; there are swelling either at the groin, under arms and at the glands in the neck; paleness and petechiae.
Patient suffering from ALL requires take chemotherapy drugs. Radiation therapy is administered to patients where the chemotherapy drugs don't reach the spinal cord and the brain tissues. A bone marrow transplant may also be recommended if a person with a full match is available for the operation. Symptoms vary from patient to patient. In this case, depending on the symptoms, a blood product, platelets or red blood cells, transfusion is advisable.
ALL prognosis varies depending on the person. Factors that lead to this different prognosis include genetic disorder, the gender, ethnicity, age, the count of white blood cell, immunological subtypes, morphological subtypes and the response of the patient's first treatment.
CHRONIC LYMPHOCYTIC LEUKEMIA (CLL)
This is the commonest leukemia type and men are more prone to be affected by it, as compared to women. CLL in most cases affects the adults and very rare cases in children. It is slower in development than acute lymphocytic leukemia. It causes an increase in the number of unhealthy lymphocytes in the bone marrow and later spreads to other tissues.
In CLL, the symptom takes longer time to develop. The symptoms may include increase in size of the liver, spleen or the lymph nodes; fever; fatigue; recurring infections; losing weight and appetite and sweating during the nights.
CLL in early stages requires no treatment and close examination by the doctor. However, chemotherapy drugs are used to treat patients who have contracted CLL. If the blood count is low, blood transfusion is required. For patients who are young, stem cell plantation is an advisable method of treatment.
In CLL, the prognosis depends on the disease stage. Patients diagnosed at the early stages of the CLL are likely to live for about 12 years or more. If the disease is speading fast, treatment should be administered fast.
Prevention of CLL is not known up to date
ACUTE MYELOID LEUKEMIA (AML)
This is type of leukemia common in adults and very rare cases in children. AML is a disease that affects the myeloid line of the blood cells. The AML leads to the overproduction of unhealthy white blood cells which clog up in the bone marrow. The clogging up of the unhealthy white blood cells leads to interference of generation of the healthy blood cells.
They include radiation of high doses, exposure to benzene, syndromes which are genetic and latter chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
The symptoms that a patient suffering from AML may include loss of weight and appetite, malaise, fatigue and bleeding
The patient might undergo stem transplant, chemotherapy or radiation therapy according to the doctor's recommendations.
The complications of this are excessive bleeding and the disease might relapse after completion of treatment.
AML is curable depending on the prognosis factors. If patient undergoes treatment and cancer does not relapse after 5 years, the patient is cured permanently.
Wear protective gear if working around chemicals related to leukemia
CHRONIC MYELOGENOUS LEUKEMIA (CML)
This takes longer to develop than AML and has little effect on the growth of different cell types. This is a disease that begins in the interior of the bone marrow. These diseases develop from the white blood cells producers.
Chances for contracting CML are increased by exposure to radiation which may be caused by nuclear disaster
The patient might suffer from: sweating during the nights excessively, weakness. Swelling of the spleen, fatigue and bleeding.
Gleevec is the preferred therapy for patients who have contracted CML. Moreover, chemotherapy can also be used. Bone marrow transplant cures CML therefore, the best option for treatment
Side effect of chemotherapy depends on the drugs issued. Blast crisis may give rise to fatigue, kidney problems, bleeding and even fever.
Gleevec improved prognosis for people suffering from CML. Patient can stay for a long time in remission
One should keep away from radiation.