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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia often starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever or shortness of breath and weakness that doesn't go away. Other blood-related symptoms, such as bruising easily, frequent bloody noses, or bleeding gums, are also common. Painless lumps in the lymph nodes - located at the neck, underarms, and groin - may appear, as well as a feeling of being full even when not eating. Pain may be felt in the bones and abdomen. Changes in appearance, such as pale skin or rapid weight loss, may also occur.

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    If your child has symptoms that may indicate acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), consult your doctor immediately. For example, if he or she has persistent flu-like symptoms that aren't going away, make an appointment to see your doctor. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is potentially one of the most serious and deadly forms of cancer. Before effective treatments were developed, average life expectancy after diagnosis for most people with ALL was a mere four months. With just a month of treatment, more than 95% of children with ALL go into remission. The sooner treatment is begun, the better.
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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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    Apart from being aware of certain risk factors, it is impossible to say exactly how to prevent leukemia. Having certain risk factors does not mean that one will develop the disease, and likewise having none of the risk factors does not guarantee protection from the disease. Until the disease's root cause is discovered, true prevention will not be possible.