Leukemia is an important type of cancer which hardly gets addressed in Pakistan. The complications and symptoms are often very ill-informed to what it really is. In this brief article, we will give you a simple insight on what leukemia is.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is one of the most prominent blood cancer types in which the number of white blood cells increases in your body. The white blood cells saturate the red blood cells and platelets in your body which makes it unhealthy for your healthy blood cells.
What are Common Leukemia Symptoms?
As there are different types of Leukemia, there are different kinds of problems which branch out of it. The earliest stages of this disease may not pose any serious medical attention, however, staying mindful about the consistency of such symptoms is important.
Please note, not every symptom is the precursor of leukemia, there can be other underlying medical conditions which may require immediate attention.
- Constant Weakness and fatigue
- Easily being bruised and bleed (this is the most common symptom)
- Unexplainable fever and chills.
- Infections that keep coming back and become more severe
- Painful joints and bones
- Sudden unexplainable weight loss
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Common swollen lymph nodes and other internal organs such as spleen.
Causes and Risks
There has been no definite cause of why leukemia happens. Latest research has pointed towards leukemia as abnormal formation of chromosomes during cell division. However, chromosomes themselves do not cause leukemia formation. There are several risks attached to why leukemia may happen trigger, your risks increases by certain factors, especially if;
- You are a heavy smoker
- Are often exposed to a lot of chemical radiations
- Have some family history of leukemia.
- Have leukemia due to genetic disorder
- People with Down syndrome also have higher chances of developing leukemia.
Development of Leukemia
There are many ways common blood cells can evolve and become leukemia. White blood cells are an integral part of our immune system which helps fight infection. When white blood cells develop in leukemia cells, they do not fight infection normally and start affecting the oxygen of the organs. Due to the overproduction of white blood cells, there is a dynamic shift in blood ratio. Over time you may not have sufficient amounts of each blood cell type which can lead to fatality.
This disease is classified at how it develops and what types of blood cells it affects and develops.
Leukemia Type I
There are two main types of leukemia present
- Active Leukemia– this is the most severe and abnormal blood cell defect, which does not allow normal blood cells to grow healthy. Active leukemia grows rapidly.
- Chronic Leukemia– this happens when there are certain immature cells, others work normally and become severe slowly with time.
These types further have subcategories, based on the severity of blood cell development.
Your doctor will need to check the signs and symptoms of leukemia developing in your blood or bone marrow. There will be several tests involved. If you are going through the phase of getting tested, here are some of the most common following tests you should be mindful about;
- Blood Tests: A complete CBC test should be carried out to see the development and maturity of your blood cells.
- Spinal Tap– this is a painful process of extracting fluid from the spinal cord. This is to ensure whether leukemia has spread through your body or not.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy- a small amount of marrow is taken from your pelvic bone to see what kind of leukemia has spread through your system and how severe it is.
- Targeted therapy
- Stem cell transplant
- Bone marrow transplant
Future Outlook on Leukemia
The long term outlook for people who have leukemia depends on evolving leukemia and continuous diagnosis. It is always better to get leukemia treated at an early stage. The earlier it’s treated the better chance of recovery there is. Please know each leukemia condition is different than the rest of the cases. Therefore it’s important to get your signs and symptoms checked by one of our top oncologists through our online video consultation at Healthwire.pk