Leukemia: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Veteran actor and original chocolate boy of Indian cinema Rishi Kapoor has passed away with leukemia at the age of 67. He had been battling with cancer from past two-years. Continue reading to know more about the cancer, causes, and types.

Cancer is a disease in which cells start to grow out of control. This can happen when the genes of cells are damaged. This damage can result in a mutation. A mutation is a change in cell structure. Moving ahead, you must know what is cancer and how does it begin?

Leukemia

Also known as a cancer of blood and bone marrow. In adults, bone marrow is located in the ribs, vertebrae, sternum, and bones of the pelvis. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside bones producing millions of blood cells like red cells, white cells, and platelets everyday.

The bone marrow cancer occurs when there is abnormal growth of cells in the marrow; white blood cells in particular. It leads to rise in number of mutated cells in your body. The number increases so much so that it outnumber the red blood cells, platelets or normal white cells.

The red cells carry oxygen for organs, platelets perform the function of clotting, and white cells plays an important role in immunity. However, the abnormally grown white cells cannot fight the infection and may affect normal body function.

The symptoms are similar to other forms of cancer. They may include;

  1. Weakness or Fatigue
  2. Repeated infection
  3. Pain in your bones or joints
  4. Vomiting
  5. Weight loss, etc.

Risk factors

The The exact causes of Leukemia are not clear. Though, genetic mutation like unusual chromosomes is considered as the early cause.

  1. Smoking
  2. Use of certain chemicals or drugs
  3. Radiation therapy
  4. History of blood disorders
  5. Hereditary. Though genetic, but it is rarely considered to be passed from parents.
  6. Age could be the factor. Older you are, more is the risk.

Types

The leukemia can be generally of two types depending on the type of blood cells affected. Acute leukemia happens when the immature cells of blood lead to abnormal growth. It can progress fast. When the mature blood cells get affected, chronic leukemia happens. It takes considerable time to develop compared to acute leukemia.

There are four main types of Leukemia;

  1. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia: It affects children and adults.
  2. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: It affects mainly adults.
  3. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia: It affects children and adults.
  4. Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia: It affects mainly older adults, above 65 age. A slowly progressing type.

Lymphocytes is the group of white blood cells which plays important role in immune system. Myelogenous refers to the non-lymphocytic groups of white blood cells including granulocytes, monocytes, and platelets.

Treatment and Prevention

Depending on the type, health of the patients, and available resources; the treatment options can be availed are

  1. Chemotherapy
  2. Bone Marrow transfer
  3. Use of some drugs for targeted therapy

The bone marrow transplant is considered as the last option resort. The procedure is risky as it requires a healthy donor, where donor’s blood cells infused in patients bone marrow to replace abnormal cells.

The leukemia or any other cancer can be preventable by adapting good habits in life. Implement the healthy habits and you can live stronger.

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