Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. It mainly affects the leukocytes and can develop due to problems with blood cell production. There are several forms of leukemia; some of these forms are more common in adults, whereas some occur in children.
Bodies of people with leukemia create an abundance of white blood cells that do not work in line with their general function of infection fighters. The primary cause of leukemia is damage to white blood cells, which causes them to divide uncontrollably. Once there is an abundance of cancer cells, the normal white blood cells are not able to function properly and are outnumbered by them. It is vital to check in with a doctor from the best cancer hospitals to ensure you get timely treatment.
Causes of leukemia
The exact causes of leukemia are unknown; however, it is believed that it could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Leukemia forms when the genetic code or DNA of a cell undergoes mutation. DNA dictates a cell when to divide and die. In general, the cells divide and die based on a set timeline that is healthy but in leukemia, the cells are told not to die and continue growing. This leads to the overproduction of cells that further results in the crowding of such cells in the bone marrow.
Now the type of leukemia is classified based on the rate of progression and the type of cells that are affected. There are two forms of leukemia based on the progression rate-
- Acute leukemia– This is a condition wherein the mutated blood cells are immature and cannot perform normal functions. These increase rapidly and can lead to severe symptoms in the patient. Acute leukemia requires immediate and aggressive treatment from the best cancer hospitals to stop the situation from worsening.
- Chronic leukemia– Chronic leukemia can be further divided into several categories, but in general, it involves comparatively mature blood cells that accumulate slowly and may function properly for a while. There are no early symptoms of most types of chronic leukemia and can go undiagnosed for years.
There are two classifications for leukemia based on the type of cell it affects-
- Lymphocytic leukemia– This is the form of leukemia that affects lymphoid cells that form lymphatic tissues.
- Myelogenous leukemia– This is the form that affects myeloid cells that are crucial for platelet-producing cells and white blood cells.
The most common symptoms of leukemia include fever with chills, fatigue, frequent infections that are severe, weight loss, enlarged liver, bruising or bleeding easily, nosebleeds, tiny red spots on the skin, sweating, and pain in bones. If you are experiencing any or a few of these symptoms, it is essential to check in with a doctor working at one of the best cancer hospitals right away.
A doctor will perform several physical tests and look at your personal and family history to diagnose the condition. Your blood samples will be collected and sent to a lab for assessment. The doctor may also suggest a bone marrow test based on your situation to help them figure out the type of leukemia.
The treatment for leukemia will depend on the type a person has. Other factors that impact treatment options are overall health, age, and symptoms. The primary treatment for leukemia is chemotherapy, but several other options are available, such as targeted therapy, interferon therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and stem cell transplantation.
Leukemia or any form of cancer is life-threatening, which is why it is essential you get proper treatment from one of the best cancer hospitals. If you have any symptoms outlined in the article, do check in with your doctor at the earliest.