When the DNA of a single cell in the bone marrow changes (mutates), the cell can no longer grow or function normally; it is known as leukaemia. Leukaemia is a kind of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The soft, spongy substance in the centre cavity of all bones is called bone marrow. It's a small area where all the blood cells are produced, and nutrients are provided to help the healthy blood cells. But when these cells grow abnormally, it's known as Cancer.
It may spread throughout the body. This fast, out-of-control development of abnormal cells happens in the bone marrow of patients with leukaemia. These cancerous cells subsequently spread throughout the body. Unlike other cancers, leukaemia seldom forms a tumour (tumour) that may be detected on imaging tests like X-rays. Leukaemia comes in a variety of forms. Some are more prevalent among youngsters, while others are more prevalent among adults. The type of leukaemia patients have, and other factors influence the treatment.
Types of Leukemia
Leukemia is classified by how rapidly it progresses and the type of blood cell involved.
Leukaemia is divided into four types:
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
Symptoms of Leukaemia
Different forms of leukaemia may cause various complications. In the early stages of some kinds, individuals may not notice any symptoms. Some symptoms that may occur include:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Pain in your bones or joints
- Fever or chills
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Infections that are severe or keep coming back
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lymph nodes or organs like your spleen
- Night sweats
When to see a doctor?
If these symptoms are persistent and noticeable, one should see a doctor. Symptoms of leukaemia are sometimes vague and nonspecific. A patient might not just feel well as a major symptoms. Trust your instincts. Many leukaemia symptoms are ambiguous, they may also be signs of another serious illness. Some symptoms should be handled immediately, such as new-onset of severe headaches, other neurological problems, or drenching night sweats. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, for example, should be investigated if they persist, even if patients believe there is a logical reason.
Causes and risks
While the exact cause of leukaemia is unclear, certain risk factors have been identified, including radiation exposure, past cancer therapy, and being over the age of 65. Researchers are analysing various combinations of genetic and environmental factors which are considered to be associated with leukaemia and bone marrow cells mutation. Some of the factors are as follows:
- A history of leukaemia in the family
- Tobbacco smoking which increases the risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
- A hereditary issue such as Down syndrome
- Myelodysplastic syndrome, sometimes called "preleukemia", which is a kind of blood disorder
- Past treatment of cancer with chemotherapy or radiation
- High radiation exposure of any kind
- Chemical exposure, such as with benzene, which causes cancer
- Use of some specific hair dyes
Leukemia can lead to various complications, some of which are connected to a deficiency of certain white blood cells. The following are some of the most common concerns.
When white blood cells are low, the body's ability to fight infections, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and skin infections, which can swiftly progress to sepsis and septic shock, is affected (a widespread infection often accompanied by a drop in blood pressure and reduced level of consciousness).
Bleeding is normal when the platelet count is low, but bleeding can be lethal in some places of the body. The following are some examples:
- Intracranial bleeding
- Haemorrhage in the lungs
- Haemorrhage in the gastrointestinal tract
Making healthy choices can lower the risk of acquiring cancer in various ways. Some cancers can be discovered early when treatment is most successful. Vaccines (shots) can also help prevent a wide range of malignancies. The preventions are as follows:
- Breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers can all be detected early when therapy is most effective.
- Vaccines (shots) can also assist in lowering cancer risk. The HPV vaccine protects against the majority of cervical cancers and several other cancers.
- Making healthy choices, such as keeping a healthy weight, avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol use, and protecting your skin, can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
How is Leukaemia diagnosed
A doctor will begin by reviewing the patient's medical history and performing a physical examination. Physical examination is, however, not a trusted way to diagnose leukaemia. Instead, the doctor will do diagnoses based on the following criteria:
A complete blood count (CBC) looks at the number and maturity of different types of blood cells. A blood smear is used to look for abnormal or immature cells.
Bone marrow biopsy:
During a bone marrow biopsy, a long needle is used to collect marrow from the pelvic bone. It can tell a doctor what sort of leukaemia someone has and how severe it is.
The removal of fluid from the spinal cord is known as a spinal tap. It can tell a doctor whether or not the leukaemia has spread
CT, MRI, and PET scans can all be used to identify leukaemia.
The form of leukaemia, the amount to which it has spread, and the general health of the patient affect the treatment to be provided. The following are the most important treatment options:
It uses medicines to eliminate cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow. The medication is easily accessible.
It employs high-energy X-rays to destroy or prevent the development of leukaemia cells. It can be acquired all over the body or only in one place with many cancer cells.
Immunotherapy or biological therapy:
It a biological treatment which assists the immune system in finding and fighting cancer cells. Drugs like interleukins and interferon can help the body's natural defences against leukaemia.
It involves using drugs to stop cancer cells from growing by inhibiting specific genes or proteins. This treatment can halt the growth and multiplication of leukaemia cells, cut off their blood supply, or kill them immediately.
A stem cell transplant:
In the bone marrow, a stem cell transplant replaces leukaemia cells with new blood-producing cells. The new stem cells may originate from your own body or a donor. Chemotherapy in high dosages will kill the cancer cells in your bone marrow. The new stem cells will then be injected into one of the veins. They will mature into new, healthy blood cells.
The doctor may remove the spleen if it is loaded with cancer cells and pressing on other organs. The medical word for this procedure is splenectomy.
Lifestyle Change and Self Care
A few foods have been associated with preventing various cancers. Giving most of these items a try is a no-brainer because they are healthful complements to any diet. Making a few lifestyle adjustments can help to reduce the risk of leukaemia. These activities can help to minimise the risk of other types of cancer. Among them are the following:
Smoking increases the risk of developing several malignancies, including leukaemia. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of leukaemia.
Since leukaemia and its treatments reduce the body's ability to fight infections, people with leukaemia should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and stay away from crowds, especially during cold and flu season.
Some chemicals should be avoided:
Leukaemia has been connected to the chemicals benzene and formaldehyde.
Dos and Don’ts
Leukaemia is a blood malignancy caused by an increase in the number of white blood cells in your body. The red blood cells and platelets the body needs to keep healthy are pushed out by white blood cells. On the other hand, adhering to the dos and don'ts can help prevent the disease's harmful consequences. Some guidelines are as follows:
To prevent Leukaemia one has to follow certain sets of do’s and don’ts. Follow these tips
|Exercise regularly||Use tobacco|
|Keep the stress levels in control||Eat a diet rich in saturated fats|
|Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits||Eat spicy, fried, preserved, processed junk food, and salt-preserved food like pickles|
|Have adequate nutrition||Drink alcohol|
|Get enough sunlight||Stay sedentary with no physical activity|
Precautions and self-care will help you fight the condition positively and improve your quality of life.
Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover, we have the best team of Oncologists and radiologists who work together to provide leukaemia disease treatment with utmost precision. Our highly skilled team utilises the latest medical equipment, diagnostic procedures and technologies to treat various cancer conditions and ailments. For treating Leukaemia, we adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to provide comprehensive care to the patients and attend to all their medical needs for faster and sustained recovery.