Cancer hits many families and many people at all ages of life. It is a devastating diagnosis for the patient and friends and family. Leukemia is a form of cancer where immune cells proliferate without normal regression after disease has been terminated. It is named for the “milky” coloration of blood from the high count of white blood cells. Leukemia often hits children and symptoms can be disregarded and not properly diagnosed if not treated immediately.
Leukemia is actually a broad medical term. Leukemia cancer is separated into two, more defined forms named chronic leukemia and acute leukemia. Acute leukemia cancer tends to afflict children and young adults. Its proliferation of bone marrow cells inhibits bone marrow to make properly healthy cells. It is an extremely dangerous form of cancer since malignant cells are readily available to the blood stream to transport to other organs.
Chronic leukemia cancer is better known for the abnormal proliferation of mature white blood cells. When your body is faced with disease, white blood cells divide rapidly to quickly eliminate intruding microbes. A normal immune system will later destroy the excess white blood cells, however with leukemia they continue to proliferate. Chronic leukemia mostly afflicts older adults, and therapy is monitored through typical, regular doctor appointments.
The abnormal response from immune cells in cancer patients of leukemia will eventually suppress the immune system giving rise to symptoms of the disease. One life threatening side effect of abnormally high white blood cells is the lowered amount of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body. The low red blood cell count causes anemia in leukemia patients. Other typical reactions include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and sweats. Fatigue and lethargy are often acquired. For acute symptoms, bone pain, joint pain, and severe paleness are shown in patients.
Some leukemia patients do not even show signs of high white blood cells in diagnosis tests. A rare form called aleukemia exists where test results can return as normal, however the patient still possesses abnormal growths of bone marrow tissue.
Theories as to the causes of leukemia cancer are thought to arise from mutated DNA in somatic cells. The DNA mutations inhibit natural cell death, division, and proliferation. These mutations are thought to be the result of exposure to radiation or other carcinogens.
Viruses can also account for certain samples of leukemia in patients. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or human T-lymphotropic virus are thought to carry with them a form of leukemia.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with leukemia, there are some common treatments to expect. Chemotherapy is probably the most common form of anti-cancerous treatment. Chemotherapy is used in most forms of cancer as an efficient way to kill cancer cells. Interferon treatment is a new, less traumatic form of therapy. It stimulates the immune system to fight off the disease. Other forms of treatments are marrow transplants and radiation treatment. Transplants will replenish bone marrow with healthy cells while radiation will target harmful cancer cells for elimination.