Leukemia

Leukemia

You may be surprised to find that leukemia isnt just one type of cancer but actually a category of multiple cancers that affect our blood cells. Both children and adults can be diagnosed with these cancers, which cause our bone marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells, called leukemic cells, can accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, crowding out any healthy white blood cells. The white blood cells exist to fight infection and disease. The leukemic cells also harm our platelets, which protects us from bleeding out, and the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies. Leukemia can progress either rapidly (acutely) or slowly (chronically). Depending on its progression and the type of cell it affects, a leukemia diagnosis can fall into four broad categories. Regardless of the type, infection, anemia and bleeding are common effects of this cancer.

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    Sometimes, leukemia and/or its treatment can affect your physical functioning and energy. For instance, some leukemia treatments may cause fatigue and/or peripheral neuropathy (pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet), which can affect your ability to participate in your normal activities. Oncology rehabilitation can help in the following ways: 
    • Overcome physical deficits (e.g., difficulty walking).
    • Reduce pain.
    • Alleviate muscle discomfort.
    • Improve strength and endurance.
    • Promote coordination.
    • Resolve swallowing difficulties.
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    Apart from being aware of certain risk factors, it is impossible to say exactly how to prevent chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Even in the case of risk factors, most are beyond individual control. For example, having a brother or sister with the disease increases your risk, as does being a middle-aged or older male. Until the disease's root cause is discovered, true prevention will not be possible.

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    Apart from being aware of certain risk factors-it is impossible to say exactly how to prevent chronic myelogenous leukemia. Even in the case of risk factors-most-such as gender and age-are beyond individual control. Until the disease's root cause is discovered-true prevention will not be possible.

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    A , Pediatrics, answered

    The specific cause of acute lymphoblastic leukemia is not known. Common to all cases is loss of normal growth regulation in a pre-lymphocyte (lymphoblast) in the bone marrow. In some cases, DNA / chromosome rearrangements called translocations are detected. In a fraction of these, the study of that translocation in laboratory cells suggests a cause and effect relationship between the chromosome translocation and the loss of normal growth regulation. What causes this to occur is not known, so prevention of ALL is not possible. There are some environmental factors that can increase the risk of ALL and some other cancers, including exposure to certain chemicals (benzene is a big one), ionizing radiation ; avoidance of these exposures is feasible. Radiation dose in pediatric CT scans is currently carefully monitored and is "dialed down" from standard adult doses in pediatric hospitals due to our understanding of the potential risks involved.

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    A variety of procedures including blood and genetic tests are used to diagnose chronic myelogenous leukemia. Blood tests called complete blood counts reveal abnormal numbers of white blood cells. A test called bone marrow aspiration uses a needle to remove marrow from the hipbone for analysis. Genetic tests take these blood and bone marrow samples and look for the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome and the gene it produces.

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    Because the disease affects white blood cells, acute lymphoblastic leukemia opens the body up to a variety of other infections. This is because white blood cells are the front-line soldiers in the body's fight against bacterial infection. In fact, secondary infections are one of the greatest health risks people undergoing initial treatment for the disease face. Because of this, during treatment, as the body is replenishing its supply of healthy white blood cells, doctors will often administer a round of antibiotics to prevent or treat bacterial infections.

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    Treatment for adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a long process, and several steps can be taken to make the process easier. In fact, after the initial rounds of treatment - which can last up to 6 months - it is often possible to resume living a more normal life, returning to work, and so forth.

    A key to successful management is to make sure you understand the symptoms and treatment options for your particular type of leukemia. There are several different forms of the disease that have vastly different symptoms and treatments. Work closely with your primary doctor as well as every health care provider you have access to. Don't focus exclusively on physical treatment either; seeking help from a counselor, psychologist, or recreation therapist can be a great relief from the stress and anger that come with a cancer diagnosis.

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    The best thing you can do for yourself after a diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is to make lifestyle changes to maintain your health. As the disease targets the lymphatic system and the production of white blood cells - two of the central pillars of the body's immune system - you will need to take extra care in protecting yourself from picking up secondary infections: make sure you are getting plenty of rest, eating well and exercising, and limiting your exposure to germs. CLL can also increase the risk of developing other forms of cancer, so you should eliminate as many existing cancer risks, such as smoking or a diet heavy in red meat, as you can. Lastly, and particularly if you have been diagnosed with an early stage of the disease that has not started to show symptoms, stay up to date with doctor appointments and monitoring of the disease's progress.

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    As with any cancer diagnosis, providing care means being as supportive as possible, emotionally, physically, and materially. Encourage the person with the disease to seek out support from friends, family, and medical personnel. Help them set up a blog or website where they can share the ups and downs of their treatment process with everyone concerned. During chemotherapy, offer to take up the person's share of daily chores like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and so forth. Be on the lookout for ways to ease the person's stress levels in general, especially since the chronic nature of CLL can take its toll over time, even before treatment begins in earnest.

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    As with any cancer diagnosis, providing care means being as supportive as possible, emotionally, physically, and materially. Encourage the person with the disease to seek out support from friends, family, and medical personnel. Help them set up a blog or website where they can share the ups and downs of their treatment process with everyone concerned. Take up the person's share of daily chores like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and so forth. Be on the lookout for ways to ease the person's stress levels in general, particularly during the initial months of treatment.