Leukemia primarily affects the white blood cells, making it hard for the immune system to fight against infections. In this, abnormal cells begin to grow, multiply, and replace the healthy cells in the blood and bone marrow.
Leukemia affects people of all ages. However, the risk of developing leukemia increases with age. It is more common in men than in women.
Types of Leukemia
The different types of leukemia are:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia: It starts in the T or B lymphocytes. It is most common among young children.
- Acute myeloid leukemia: This type of leukemia is common in adults and progresses quickly. It can affect any component of the blood.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): CLL begins in the B lymphocytes and usually affects older adults.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): It is a rare type of leukemia that begins in the myeloid cells and converts them into immature cancerous cells.
Symptoms of Leukemia
The common signs and symptoms of leukemia are:
- Recurrent infections
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Easy bruising, bleeding, and nose bleeds
- Enlargement of the liver and spleen
- Pale skin due to anemia
- Having flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, or body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Extreme fatigue or tiredness
- Night sweats
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Red spots on the skin (petechiae)
If one or more of the above symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, it is important to consult a physician. At HCG Manavata, we have the best blood cancer specialists who have vast experience in managing blood malignancies.
Causes of Leukemia
Many factors increase the chances of leukemia, such as:
- A family history of leukemia
- Having a genetic disorder like Down syndrome, neurofibromatosis
- Having blood disorders like myeloproliferative disorders
- Exposure to benzene
- Had a previous cancer treatment Infection by the human immunodeficiency virus
- Exposure to certain radiation, like ionization radiation
Diagnosis of Leukemia
We have some of the top leukemia treatment doctors in Nashik and they are trained to provide superior diagnostic and treatment support. The common tests performed for the diagnosis of leukemia are:
- Complete Blood Count: A complete blood test can be done to check for an abnormal number of WBC, RBC, and platelets that may indicate leukemia.
- Peripheral Blood Smear: It helps to check for the shape and size of the leukemia cells in the blood sample.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy: It is a confirmatory test for the diagnosis of leukemia. A bone marrow biopsy helps to measure the percentage of abnormal cells in the bone marrow and their type.
- Lumbar Puncture: A sample of liquid from the spinal cord is taken and examined under the microscope to check if leukemia has spread to the spinal cord and brain.
- Imaging Tests: The doctor may perform MRI scans, PET/CT scans, etc., to check if leukemia has spread to lymph nodes, organs, or tissues.
- Flow Cytometry: Flow cytometry helps to detect leukemia, its type, and special characteristics like genes or proteins on or in the leukemia cells.
Treatment for Leukemia
Patients should choose the best blood cancer treatment hospital in Nashik, Maharashtra. The doctor may use the following procedures for the treatment of leukemia:
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the most common treatment method used for leukemia. It utilizes chemicals or drugs to kill leukemia cells and prevent them from growing and multiplying. It also helps to keep leukemia under control and to ease signs and symptoms. Usually, a combination of two or more drugs is used to treat leukemia. It can be administered orally or intravenously.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy targets leukemia cells with high-energy radiation to kill them and prevent them from multiplying. It is used for leukemia that has spread to the brain and spinal cord before the stem cell transplant, to shrink a tumor to reduce its size before the surgery, or to reduce the pain in areas invaded by leukemia.
Targeted Therapy: Advanced-stage leukemia and leukemia that recurs are usually treated using targeted therapy. It works by targeting the genes or proteins specific to leukemia cells and by destroying the environment that helps the leukemia cells thrive.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy for leukemia involves the use of certain medications that help the immune system differentiate leukemia from healthy cells and attack them. Specifically, monoclonal antibodies, CSR T cells, and radioimmunotherapy are used for the treatment of leukemia.
Stem Cell Transplant: In this procedure, patients receive healthy stem cells to replace the damaged stem cells due to leukemia. It is also known as a bone marrow transplant. It is an effective method to treat leukemia with a high success rate. A stem cell transplant helps to stimulate the bone marrow to produce healthy blood cells. It also helps to restore the strength of the immune system. The stem cells for transplant can be obtained from the patient’s blood or the donor.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the survival rate of leukemia?
Many factors affect the survival rate of leukemia, such as age, stage of leukemia, type of leukemia, overall health, and type of treatment method used. Early detection and timely treatment promise better survival rates.
2. Is leukemia hereditary?
Leukemia is caused due to mutations in genes. However, these genetic abnormalities are rarely transferred from one generation to another.
3. How can I prevent leukemia?
There is no exact way to prevent leukemia as most risk factors are uncontrollable. However, you can reduce the risk by avoiding tobacco and exposure to harmful chemicals and radiation.
4. What are the common side effects of leukemia treatment?
The side effects are specific to the type of method used to treat leukemia. For example, the common side effects of chemotherapy for leukemia are sore mouth, weight loss, fatigue, hair loss, pale skin, increased risk of infection, and many more.
5. Is leukemia curable?
Leukemia is a broad term used for a group of blood cancers. The treatment and prognosis of leukemia depend on the specific type. Some forms of leukemia are 100% curable when detected in the early stages.