Leukaemia Symptoms: Cases that have brought shivers down the spine, the internet is storming with such articles. Things you didn’t know about Leukemia and this article articulates about the best diagnosis and treatments you could avail out there. Educating the family members about the causes and symptoms, helps us prevent such deadly non-conventional disease.
Leukaemia is one of those deadly cancerous diseases that the body is prone to blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
Leukaemia comes in various forms and types. Some forms of leukaemia are more common in children. Other forms of leukaemia occur mostly in adults.
Leukaemia usually involves white blood cells. The white blood cells are potent infection fighters — they normally grow and divide in an orderly way, as your body needs them. Commonly termed as the immunity builders.
But, in people with leukaemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don’t function properly. Now, this is a huge concern.
There is a very thin thread line that differentiates the symptoms for regular fever that involves general weakness with that of Leukemia symptoms:
The below include the symptoms that might vary,
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Fever or chills
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Losing weight without trying
In the fast-paced lifestyle, there are very high chances of losing health & fitness. Adding to this the scientists don’t understand the exact causes of leukaemia. It seems to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
In general, leukaemia is thought to occur when some blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA — the instructions inside each cell that guide its action.
The study is still in progress to understand the other cells present in the body if at all they contribute to leukaemia.
Certain abnormalities cause the cell to divide more rapidly and to continue living when normal cells would die. Over time, these abnormal cells can crowd out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to fewer healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, causing the signs and symptoms of leukaemia.
Leukaemia branches out:
Doctors classify leukaemia based on its speed of progression and the type of cells involved.
The first type of classification: How fast leukaemia progresses:
Acute leukaemia. In acute leukaemia, the abnormal blood cells are immature (blasts). They can’t carry out their normal functions, and they multiply rapidly, so the disease worsens quickly. Acute leukaemia requires aggressive, timely treatment.
Chronic leukaemia. There are many types of chronic leukaemias. Some produce too many cells and some cause too few cells to be produced. Chronic leukaemia involves more mature blood cells. These blood cells replicate or accumulate more slowly and can function normally for a while.
Some forms of chronic leukaemia initially produce no early symptoms and can go unnoticed or undiagnosed for years.
The second type of classification: Type of white blood cell affected:
Lymphocytic leukaemia. This type of leukaemia affects the lymphoid cells (lymphocytes), which form lymphoid or lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue makes up your immune system.
Myelogenous (my-uh-LOHJ-uh-nus) leukaemia. This type of leukaemia affects myeloid cells. Myeloid cells give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet-producing cells.
Types of leukaemia
The major types of leukaemia are:
Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukaemia in young children. ALL can also occur in adults.
Acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML). AML is a common type of leukaemia. It occurs in children and adults. AML is the most common type of acute leukaemia in adults.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). With CLL, the most common chronic adult leukaemia, you may feel well for years without needing treatment.
Chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML). This type of leukaemia mainly affects adults. A person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years before entering a phase in which the leukaemia cells grow more quickly.
Other types. Other, rarer types of leukaemia exist, including hairy cell leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders.
The doctors first subject and examine the symptoms through the following tests:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will look for physical signs of leukaemia, such as pale skin from anaemia, swelling of your lymph nodes, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.
- Blood tests. By looking at a sample of your blood, your doctor can determine if you have abnormal levels of red or white blood cells or platelets — which may suggest leukaemia.
- Bone marrow test. Your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove a sample of bone marrow from your hipbone. The bone marrow is removed using a long, thin needle. The sample is sent to a laboratory to look for leukaemia cells. Specialized tests of your leukaemia cells may reveal certain characteristics that are used to determine your treatment options.
The following treatment can help cure and reverse the process to a good extent, even if the person is suffering from leukaemia and is at the brink of suffering.
Common treatments used to fight leukaemia include:
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the major form of treatment for leukaemia. This drug treatment uses chemicals to kill leukaemia cells.
- Depending on the type of leukaemia you have, you may receive a single drug or a combination of drugs. These drugs may come in a pill form, or they may be injected directly into a vein.
- Biological therapy. Biological therapy works by using treatments that help your immune system recognize and attack leukaemia cells.
- Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific vulnerabilities within your cancer cells.
- For example, the drug imatinib (Gleevec) stops the action of a protein within the leukaemia cells of people with chronic myelogenous leukaemia. This can help control the disease.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy beams to damage leukaemia cells and stop their growth. During radiation therapy, you lie on a table while a large machine moves around you, directing the radiation to precise points on your body.
- You may receive radiation in one specific area of your body where there is a collection of leukaemia cells, or you may receive radiation over your whole body. Radiation therapy may be used to prepare for a stem cell transplant.
- Stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant is a procedure to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow.
- Before a stem cell transplant, you receive high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy your diseased bone marrow. Then you receive an infusion of blood-forming stem cells that help to rebuild your bone marrow.
- You may receive stem cells from a donor, or in some cases, you may be able to use your stem cells. A stem cell transplant is very similar to a bone marrow transplant.