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Leukemia

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Home > Cancer Treatment > Types Of Cancer > Leukemia

Overview


What is LEUKEMIA?
Causes of LEUKEMIA
Symptoms of LEUKEMIA
Diagnosis of LEUKEMIA
Treatment of LEUKEMIA in India


WHAT IS LEUKEMIA?

The term leukemia actually describes a group of cancers involving an excess of white blood cells. In leukemia normal control mechanism starts to produce large number of abnormal white blood cells disrupting production of normal blood cells and affecting vital functions that these blood cells carry out.

Leukemia can be classified as either lymphoid or myeloid, denoting the type of white blood cells affected. It is also categorized as either acute or chronic reflecting the speed of progression.

Acute Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic (lymphoid) Leukemia (ALL) accounts for more than 80% of cases of and one of the few forms of cancer that is more common in children than adults.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) accounts adults for most of the remaining cases


Chronic Leukemia

Chronic leukemia which progress slowly are very rare in childhood
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) accounts for less than 3% of childhood leukemia
Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia is unheard of in children

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Causes of Leukemia?

Leukemia is more common in men than women. The main causes are : -

  • Radiation exposure : - Exposure to very high levels of radiation increases acute leukemia risk.


  • Exposure to benzene : - Exposure to the chemical benzene at work over a long period of time increases your risk of developing acute leukemia.


  • Smoking : -Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia.


  • Genetic reasons : - Certain inherited conditions can increase the risk of developing acute leukemia. Children with Down's syndrome are more likely to get acute myeloid leukemia than other children.


  • Family history : -Having a first or second-degree relative diagnosed with a blood cancer or lymphoma.


  • Past chemotherapy : -People who have had treatment with particular chemotherapy drugs in the past.


  • Blood disorders : -Bone marrow disorders called myelodysplastic syndrome, Fanconi's anaemia & diseases where bone marrow makes too many blood cells (myeloproliferative disorders).


  • Viruses : -Virus called HTLV-1 (human T cell leukemia virus) causes a rare form of adult T cell leukemia.


  • Electromagnetic fields : -Power lines produce 'low frequency electromagnetic radiation' (EMR), as do electric wiring and electrical equipment.


  • Exposure to infection and childhood leukemia

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Diagnosis of Leukemia

Any diagnosis relies on a good medical history (the story of how the illness developed), a physical examination and special tests guided by the history and examination. Blood tests are important in the diagnosis of leukemia. A sample of blood is examined under a microscope to see what the cells look like and to determine the number of mature cells and blasts.


Bone Marrow test for Leukemia

To check further for leukemia cells or to tell the type of Leukemia, a heamatologist, oncologist, or pathologist performs a bone marrow biopsy. The doctor withdraws the sample by inserting a needle into a large bone (usually the hip) and removing a small amount of liquid bone marrow. This procedure is called bone marrow aspiration. A bone marrow biopsy is performed with a larger needle, and a small piece of bone and bone marrow is removed. This is usually done under local anesthesia or with sedation.

The marrow is then examined under the microscope, if leukemia is found in the bone marrow sample; further tests are done on the marrow to determine the type of leukemia. The patient's doctor also orders other tests to find out the extent of the disease. A spinal tap (also known as a lumbar puncture) checks for leukemia cells in the fluid that fills the spaces in and around the brain and spinal cord (the cerebrospinal fluid). Chest X-rays can reveal signs of disease in the chest.

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Symptoms of Leukemia

When leukemia develops, the leukemia cells take over the bone marrow and prevent the normal formation of the different blood cells.

They affect the normal three cell lines and their functions : -


  • Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. They cannot help the body fight infections. For this reason, people with leukemia often get infections and have fevers.
  • They crowd out the normal blood-forming cells. As a result there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen, so patients become tired and pale (called anemia), and there are not enough platelets to stop bleeding and bruising.

Some of the common symptoms of leukemia are : -

Fever, chills, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms , Weakness and fatigue, Frequent infections, Loss of appetite and/or weight, Swollen or tender lymph nodes, liver or spleen, Easy bleeding or bruising, Tiny red spots (called petechiae) under the skin, Swollen or bleeding gums, Sweating, especially at night, Bone or joint pain

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Treatment of Leukemia in India

Treatment for leukemia is complex. It varies with the type of leukemia, and it is not the same for all patients. The treatment depends not only on the type of leukemia, but also on certain features of the leukemia cells, the extent of the disease, and whether the leukemia has been treated before. It also depends on the patient's age, symptoms and general health.

Bone marrow transplantation in India is a way of allowing doctors to use very large doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to kill the cancerous cells. It is currently preferred in some centres to use peripheral blood stem cells from the donor. A second option is the Graft-versus-Leukemia effect, where the cells from the new marrow recognise the leukemia cells as cancerous and kill them.

A few days before the transplant, the patient's marrow is destroyed with the treatment and a new bone marrow given back to the patient. The new healthy marrow is given in a bag through a drip, much like a blood transfusion. This new marrow finds its way through the blood back to the bones, and starts growing straight away. But it takes a few weeks before the new marrow is able to produce enough cells to fight off infections and prevent bleeding. During that time, the patient has to stay in hospital and be protected from and treated for any infections or signs of bleeding that may develop.

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.Read More.

For patients who need repeated courses of intravenous chemotherapy, the doctors may suggest placing a semi-permanent catheter into a vein (sometimes known as a Hickman or J line). This is a thin plastic tube that goes under the skin on the chest into a vein in the neck or chest. Although it is painful immediately after it has been put in, the pain settles quickly and the patient can then have all injections, blood tests and blood transfusions through the catheter. This avoids having repeated injections and drips in the arms.

Radiotherapy (also called radiation therapy) uses high-energy rays like X-rays to stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying. This may be directed to a specific part of the body like the spleen, or to the whole body, usually as preparation for a bone marrow transplant.Read More..

Biological therapy (also called immunotherapy) involves treatment with substances that affect the immune system's ability to destroy cancer cells. The two available types of biological therapy are Interferon, which stimulates the immune system to kill cancer cells, and monoclonal antibodies, which stick to cancer cells to draw the immune system's attention to them. These are usually used in the chronic rather than the acute leukemia's.Read More..



The list of of world class Cancer hospitals in India is as follows : -


Apollo Hospital Chennai Apollo Hospital, Chennai, India
Apollo Specialty Hospital Chennai Apollo Specialty Hospital, Chennai, India
Apollo Hospitals Bangalore Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore, India
Apollo Hospitals Delhi Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, India
Fortis Hospital Noida, India Fortis Hospital, Noida, India
Narayana Cancer Hospital, Bangalore, India Narayana Cancer Hospital, Bangalore, India
Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon ( Delhi ) , India Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon ( Delhi ) , India


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