Blood has three types of cells: White blood cells that fight infection, Red blood cells that carry oxygen, and Platelets that help blood to clot. Every day, billions of new blood cells are made in the Bone marrow, most of the red cells. But when you have leukemia, your body makes more white cells than it needs. There are two main types of white blood cells in your body: lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. Leukemia can happen in either type.
Any of the blood-forming or lymphoid cells can turn into a leukemic cell. Once that happens, the cell reproduces to form many new cancer cells. Eventually, these cells can overwhelm the bone marrow, spill out into the bloodstream and spread to other organs.
There are four common types of leukemia based on how quickly the disease develops and the type of white blood cell that is affected. In acute leukemia blood cells are very abnormal, increase rapidly and worsen quickly. In chronic leukemia the abnormal blood cells can still do their work early in the disease but slowly get worse.
The four common types of leukemia are:
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (most often occurs in those older than age 55 and almost never in children);
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (affects mainly adults);
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (most common type of leukemia in young children but also may affect adults); and
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (occurs in both adults and children).
These leukemia cells can’t fight infection the way normal white blood cells do. And because there are so many of them, they start to affect the way your major organs work. Eventually, there aren’t enough red blood cells to supply oxygen, enough platelets to clot the blood, or enough normal white blood cells to fight infection.No one knows exactly what causes leukemia. People who have it have certain abnormal chromosomes, but the chromosomes don’t cause Leukemia.
In short, Leukemia is a cancer of your blood cells caused by a rise in the number of white blood cells in your body. They crowd out the red blood cells and Platelets your body needs to be healthy; and all those extra white blood cells don’t work right either, hindering the body’s ability to fight infection.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of leukemia is not known. Studies have found the following risk factors for leukemia.
Radiation: People exposed to very high levels of radiation are much more likely to develop leukemia. These high levels of radiation may have been caused by atomic bomb explosions, nuclear power plant accidents and medical treatment using radiation.
Exposure to chemicals: Exposure to high levels of chemicals in the work place, including benzene and formaldehyde, can cause leukemia.
Smoking: Smoking is a proven risk factor for acute myeloid leukemia.
Drugs: Drugs with alkylating agents, commonly used in chemotherapy, are associated with the development of leukemia after long-term therapy.
Genetic disorders: Certain genetic disorders like Down syndrome may increase the risk of developing leukemia.
Depending on the number of abnormal cells and where these cells collect, patients with leukemia may have a number of symptoms. Common symptoms of leukemia may include:
- fever or night sweats
- frequent infections
- feeling weak or tired
- bleeding and bruising easily (bleeding gums, purplish patches in the skin or tiny red spots under the skin)
- pain in the bones or joints
- swelling or discomfort in the abdomen
- swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck or armpit
- unintentional weight loss
An infection or another problem also could cause these symptoms. It is important to report any of these symptoms to a doctor.
Leukemia can affect different Systems:
Leukemia affects The Circulatory System. When Stem cells grow into abnormal cells, these cells do not do the job they’re supposed to do which affects the other cells around them. Leukemia will cause infections, anemia, bleeding, swelling and pain in the organs. When abnormal Leukemia cells pass through blood vessels, they don’t function properly and even the cells around them are affected, causing less of delivery of oxygen to organs and glands. Via blood vessels, these cells spread cancer to different parts of our body.
Once leukemia reaches the brain, the patient may experience seizures, problems with balance, problems with vision, and headaches. By taking out a sample of fluid from the lower part of the back, the doctor can most likely tell if leukemia has indeed reached the Central nervous system.
Treatment for your leukemia depends on many factors like age and overall health, the type of leukemia you have, and whether it has spread to other parts of your body, including the central nervous system.
Common treatments include:
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the major form of treatment for leukemia. This drug treatment uses chemicals to kill leukemia cells.
- Biological therapy. Biological therapy works by using treatments that help your immune system recognize and attack leukemia cells.
- Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific vulnerabilities within your cancer cells. This can help control the disease.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy beams to damage leukemia cells and stop their growth. Radiation therapy may be used to prepare for a stem cell transplant.
Stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant is a procedure to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow.
Before a stem cell transplant, you receive high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy your diseased bone marrow. Then you receive an infusion of blood-forming stem cells that help to rebuild your bone marrow.
You may receive stem cells from a donor, or in some cases, you may be able to use your own stem cells. A stem cell transplant is very similar to a bone marrow transplant.
Impact of Leukemia on Individual and Society:
Having a life-threatening illness like leukemia as a child can have a lasting impact on both the child and family. Although you and your child will not completely forget the experience, it can become a small part of their life as they move forward. Your child’s behavior and emotional health can influence how well they cope in the long run.
Surviving a disease like Leukemia can be very distressing, and dealing with medical procedures, hospitalizations, and separation from family and friends can be extremely difficult.
Both your family and your child may experience upsetting thoughts and feelings.
This disease can take place in any country but not every country cures this disease ,and the geographical location is very important also if this disease is not cured than it can have a social impact as it will will genetical and can pass on by generations also there are some doctors who ask for a higher value of amount to cure the disease which can lead the economy in a bad track.