Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

Overview of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

Leukemia Meaning in Urdu

لیوکیمیا ایک جان لیوا بیماری ہے، اسے خون کا کینسر بھی کہا جاتا ہے۔ اس کینسر کی وجہ سے خون کے سیلز کی افزائش بہت تیز ہو جاتی ہے یا بہت سست۔ خون کا کینسر زیادہ تر ایسے افراد کو متاثر کرتا ہے جو زندگی کے تیسرے حصے میں ہوتے ہیں۔ ایک عام اندازے کے مطابق یہ پچپن سال سے زائد عمر والے افراد کو زیادہ متاثر کرتا ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ یہ پندرہ سال سے کم عمر کے بچوں کو بھی متاثر کر سکتا ہے۔ خون کے کینسر کی بنیادی علامات میں بخار، دائمی کمزوری یا تھکاوٹ، وزن میں کمی، لمف نوڈز کی سوزش، جسم کے کسی بھی عضو سے آسانی سے خون بہہ جانا، بار بار ناک سے خون بہنا، جِلد پر چھوٹے چھوٹے سرخ دھبے، رات کو بہت زیادہ پسینہ آنا، اور ہڈیوں کا درد شامل ہے۔

Leukemia or blood cancer(خون کا سرطان/Khoon ka Sartaan) is a type of cancer that arises in the bone marrow. It is also known as blood cancer. It affects the immature white blood cells also called blasts that result in a high number of abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal blood cells divide rapidly and crowd out the red blood cells and platelets.

Leukemia exists in different forms. Some types commonly occur in children. While some forms only affect adults.

Leukemia treatment depends on the specific type of cancer and is complicated. However, through various strategies, it can be successful.

Signs and Symptoms of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

The symptoms of leukemia vary and depend on its specific type. Some common symptoms of leukemia may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Bone pain  
  • Easy bleeding
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Excessive sweating during the night
  • Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
  • Weight loss
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Severe infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen

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Types of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

There are four main types of leukemia:

  • Acute Leukemia: It is also known as acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). In this type, immature blood cells are mutated. These cells divide quickly and are unable to perform normal functions. The disease worsens in a short time. It most commonly occurs in children. ALL require aggressive and on-time treatment. 
  • Chronic Leukemia: Chronic leukemias can be of different types. Some types produce enormous cells while others produce a small number of cells. In chronic leukemia, mature blood cells undergo mutational changes. These cells divide and grow slowly. This type of leukemia is considered persistent. Some forms of chronic leukemia are asymptomatic initially and remain unnoticed for many years. 
  • Lymphocytic Leukemia: In this type of leukemia lymphocytes are affected. Lymphoid cells from lymphatic tissue. These cells are important components of the immune system. Lymphatic cells provide defense against diseases and infections. 
  • Myelogenous Leukemia: In this type of leukemia, myeloid cells are affected. From myeloid cells red blood cells, lymphocytes and platelets originate. 

Causes of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

It is unknown what causes leukemia. However, it is suggested that leukemia is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Leukemia occurs due to mutational changes in the genomes of blood cells. Some changes cause the overgrowth of cells. These cells grow rapidly until the normal cells die. Consequently, these abnormal cells crowd out the normal blood cells and platelets leading to leukemia. 

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Risk Factors of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

There are some factors that can increase the risk of developing different types of leukemia, such as:

  • Previous Cancer Treatment: Previous radiation or chemotherapy treatments for other types of carcinomas increase the risk of having certain types of leukemia. 
  • Genetic Problems: Certain genetic problems increase the risk of developing leukemia. These genetic issues may include Down syndrome.
  • Exposure to Certain Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene-present in gasoline makes you more prone to some kinds of leukemia.
  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia.
  • Family History of Leukemia: Your risk of developing leukemia is increased if your parents or siblings have a leukemia history.  

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Prevention

The best possible preventive ways for leukemia are as follows:

  1. Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking
  2. Try to maintain a moderate weight 
  3. Limit your exposure to radiation and carcinogenic chemicals 
  4. Avoid cousin marriages if any individual has a family history of leukemia or other cancers
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Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of leukemia following diagnostic tests are performed:

Physical Exam: In a physical examination, the doctor checks for the physical signs such as 

  • Pale skin from anemia 
  • Swelling of your lymph nodes
  • Enlargement of your liver and spleen

Blood Tests: Blood tests are performed to determine the level of red or white blood cells. The abnormal level of these blood cells confirms leukemia. 

Bone Marrow Test: This test is performed to check if the cancer is affecting blood cells or marrow. Usually, bone marrow samples are removed from the hipbone. For this purpose, a thin needle is used. Further, the sample is sent to a diagnostic lab for testing. This test helps in the selection of treatment approaches.

Treatment of Leukemia (Blood Cancer) | When to Consult a Doctor

Treatment of leukemia depends on various factors, such as: 

  • Age and overall health 
  • Type of leukemia 
  • Spread of the cancer

Some common treatment approaches used for leukemia include:

  1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is considered the most painful method of treatment. In this procedure, drugs are injected through the vein. Although it is an effective treatment it also has many side effects such as loss of appetite, vomiting, and chills. It also makes the body prone to infections. 

This treatment can be used before or after the surgery. It specifically targets and kills leukemia cells.

  1. Biological Therapy

In biological therapy, cancer cells are removed by using the immune system. Specific approaches are used to make the immune cells leukemia cells specifically.

  1. Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy involves the use of drugs that specifically destroy leukemia cells. For example, imatinib is a drug that inhibits a protein involved in the mutation of lymphocytes. This drug is recommended for chronic myelogenous leukemia patients.  

  1. Radiation Therapy

In radiation therapy, high-energy waves such as X-rays and protons are used to kill leukemia cells. In this procedure, a machine moves around the patient and beams to the cancer site. Radiation therapy is often recommended after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells.

  1. Stem Cell Transplant

In stem cell transplant, affected bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow. Prior to transplant, through radiation therapy or chemotherapy diseased bone marrow, is destroyed. After that blood-forming cells are infused that form the new bone marrow. 

In some cases, bone marrow is donated by another person, however, a patient’s own bone marrow can also be used for this purpose. 

If you experience any signs and symptoms of leukemia that are persistent and worrisome seek medical care as soon as possible.

Doctors to treat Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

Last updated on Thursday 27/10/2022

Doctor

Dr. Amjad S.K Durrani

Oncologist | MBBS, AFSA, Medical Oncology, DMRT

Wazir Habib Cancer CenterRs 3500

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Today’s Slots

96%

Satisfaction Rate

18

Years

Highly recommended. Very good doctor

Doctor

Dr. Nadeem Zia

Oncologist | MBBS , DMRT , TTPS

Mid City HospitalRs 3000

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Today’s Slots

97%

Satisfaction Rate

27

Years

Highly Recommended

Doctor

Dr. Amna Masood

Oncologist | MBBS, FCPS

Pak Onco CareRs 1000

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Today’s Slots

98%

Satisfaction Rate

13

Years

Highly Recommended

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