What is Leukemia Cancer
Leukemia is a cancer of blood cells. It begins in the bone marrow, the soft tissues inside most bones. Most often, it is a cancer of white blood cells, but some types of leukemia also starts in other blood cells types. It produces abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells. These abnormal blood cells grow faster than normal blood cells and do not stop when they should.
There are several types of Leukemia. In general, Leukemia can be grouped into two broad categories:
a)Acute or Chronic: Acute Leukemia gets worse very fast & may make us feel sick right away. Chronic Leukemia gets worse slowly & may not cause symptoms for years.
b)Lymphocytic or Myelogenous: Lymphocytic leukemia affects white blood cells. Myelogenous leukemia affects white blood cells called myelocytes.
Types of Leukemia include:
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
What are the risk factors for Leukemia?
- Previous chemotherapy
- Human T-cell leukemia virus 1 (HTLV-1)
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Down syndrome and other genetic diseases
- Family history
Signs & Symptoms of Leukemia :
Common Symptoms of acute or chronic leukemia may include:
- Swelling and pain on the left side of the abdomen
- Swollen lymph nodes that usually don’t hurt
- Frequent bleeding from the gums or rectum, heavy menstrual bleeding
- Feeling Weak or tired
- Weight Loss or loss of appetite for no known reason
- Fever or Night Sweats
- Bone pain
Diagnosis of Leukemia
If a person has symptoms that suggest leukemia, the doctor may do a physical exam and ask about the patient’s personal and family medical history. The doctor also may order laboratory tests, especially blood tests.
The exams and tests may include the following:
- Physical exam—The doctor checks for swelling of the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver.
- Blood tests—The lab checks the level of blood cells. Leukemia causes a very high level of white blood cells. It also causes low levels of platelets and hemoglobin, which is found inside red blood cells. The lab also may check the blood for signs that leukemia has affected the liver and kidneys.
- Biopsy—The doctor removes some bone marrow from the hipbone or another large bone. A pathologist examines the sample under a microscope. The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. A biopsy is the only sure way to know whether leukemia cells are in the bone marrow.
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