Know more about leukemia and treatments available What is leukemia?

Generally, speaking, leukemia is essentially the cancer of blood cells. The disease starts from the bone marrow which is a soft tissue found inside most bones. Blood cells are essentially made in the bone marrow. The white blood cells do a great job in providing your body with defense against diseases. They help in fighting infections in the body. Then there are the red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen all over the body. Finally, platelets help the blood to clot.

Once you are inflicted with leukemia, your bone marrow begins to make white blood cells that are abnormal and these are actually made in very large numbers. These leukemia cells don’t actually do the job that normal white blood cells should do. The cancerous cells grow much faster compared to the normal cells and never stop growing at a time they are expected to stop. With time, the leukemia cells end up crowding out your normal blood cells. The end result of this is some serious problems like anemia, infections and bleeding. At other times, the leukemia cells even spread to other organs in the body including the lymph nodes and cause a lot of pain and swelling.

Leukemia comes in different types

Leukemia is of different types and generally speaking, it is grouped depending on how quickly the disease gets worse as well as by the type of white blood cells affected. It could be chronic or acute. With acute leukemia, the infection worsens incredibly fast and the patient might feel sick immediately. Chronic leukemia tends to worsen slowly and symptoms might not be present for years. Secondly, it might be myelogenous or lymphocytic. With lymphocytic or the so called lymphoblastic leukemia, the type of white blood cells affected are lymphocytes. When myelocytes are affected, this is known as myelogenous leukemia. Other leukemias are less common like the hairy cell leukemia while others are subtypes like acute promyelocytic leukemia.

Causes and symptoms of leukemia

The actual cause of leukemia isn’t known. However, risk factors include excessive exposure to radiation and chemicals like benzene at work. While symptoms usually depend on the type of leukemia one has, common symptoms include: headaches, night sweats and fever, bruising and bleeding easily, joint or bone pain, a painful or swollen belly due to an enlarged spleen, getting numerous infections, swollen lymph nodes, especially in the groin, armpit or nick and weight loss.

Treatment options for leukemia

The kind of treatment you get will be determined by a couple of things such as the type of leukemia you are suffering from, its extent, your overall health and your age. Nevertheless, common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant and biological therapy. After diagnosis, the physical will advise you about the most appropriate treatment for you.