Earlier, in the series of types of cancer, we wrote about breast cancer. Now, it’s time to update our knowledge by an another type of cancer: leukemia.
It is a common name given to many other blood-related types of cancer. Those are lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and many other. The word Leukemia comes from the Greek language where leukos means “white” and aima means “blood”.
‘Blood cancer’ is also a name of leukemia.
What is leukemia:
It is a type of cancer that causes abnormal growth of white blood cells. Birth, growth, and death of any type of cell is a natural process. When this process gets disturbed because of some reason, it gives rise to new undeveloped cells. In the case of leukemia, these abnormal and undeveloped cells are called blasts or leukemia cells.
This chaotic abnormality in the natural process causes normal blood cells to die after a while and are replaced by new undeveloped cells (blasts), which are produced in the bone marrow. The abnormal blood cells do not die so easily and accumulate, occupying more and more space. In simple, abnormal and undeveloped cells take over well developed and healthy cells (process occur mainly over white blood cells).
This break-down of natural process mainly in bone marrow is leukemia.
The cause of leukemia:
So far, researchers can’t pinpoint an exact cause for this cancer. However, they believe that like other cancer types, this also happens because of radiation and mutation in DNA. Cancer researchers say different types of leukemia have different causes.
- Radiation: high energy radiation can cause dramatic changes in DNA. This change can cause leukemia. Large doses of Sr-90 (bone seeker) increases its risk in animals and is presumed to do so in people. The International Agency for Research on Cancer said that there is limited evidence that high levels of extremely low frequency magnetic (but not electric) fields might cause some cases of childhood leukemia.
- Genetic condition: some people are likelihood to develop leukemia because of genetic reasons. The affected people may have a single gene or multiple genes in common. Mutation in SPRED1 gene can cause childhood leukemia. People with Down syndrome have a significantly increased risk of developing forms of acute leukemia.
Other suspected causes:
- human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1) causes adult T-cell leukemia
- Use of tobacco can cause a small increase in the risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia
- Benzene and some petrochemicals
- Hair dyes
- Children born to mothers who use fertility drugs
Signs and symptoms:
- lack of blood platelets.
- weak immune system.
- frequent infection like infected tonsils, sores in the mouth, diarrhea, pneumonia.
- feeling sick, having fevers, chills, night sweats.
- the feeling of fullness due to the enlarged liver can cause weight loss.
However, the most common symptoms in children are easy bruising, pale skin, fever, and an enlarged spleen or liver.
Different kinds of leukemia have different treatment approach. However, pharmaceutical medication, typically combined into a multi-drug chemotherapy regimen is most common treatment approach.
Some common treatment approaches are:
- radiation therapy
- bone marrow transplant
Facts about Leukemia:
- In 2012, it developed in 352,000 people globally and caused 265,000 deaths.
- In 2000, approximately 256,000 children and adults around the world developed this cancer, and 209,000 died from it.
- It is the most common type of cancer in children.
- In children under 15, the five-year survival rate is greater than 60 to 85%, depending on its type.
- It occurs more commonly in the developed world.