Leukemia is a cancer that develops in the tissues that produce blood, namely.
Bone marrow is responsible for producing 95% of the body’s blood cells. The bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found in the center of most bone. Leukemia is most prevalent in young children, but it can effect any age group.
The three major blood cells produced by bone marrow are:
- White blood cells: aide the body in fighting off infections.
- Red blood cells: transport oxygen throughout the entire body.
- Platelets: help with the blood clot to prevent bleeding.
Normally the human body produces blood cells as they are needed. This ongoing process is regulated by signals from various organs, tissues, and blood-regulating systems, such as the nymph nodes, spleen, and liver. When Leukemia develops, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells called leukemia cells. These abnormal white blood cells, which are unable to fight off infections, accumulate in the blood.
Common Types of Leukemia
The lack of normal white blood cells leads to a higher risks of bleeding, anemia, and infections. There are four main types of leukemia are. Each leukemia type is characterized by a unique set of features.
ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA (ACL)
ACL is the most prevalent type of leukemia among children, accounting for 75-80% of leukemia diagnoses in children. This type of leukemia affects blood cells called lymphocytes. When lymphocytes are affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia, they will not develop into mature blood cells immature and they will overproduce quickly.
Most children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia are cured after receiving proper medical treatment.
Acute myelogenous leukemia is the most common type of leukemia diagnosed in adults. This type of leukemia is a fast growing cancer that affects the blood cells called granulocytes. When these cells are affected, they do not develop into mature blood cells and they overproduce quickly.
CHRONIC LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA
This type of leukemia is the most common type of leukemia diagnosed in adults over the age of 60. Chronic lymphoblastic leukemia is initiated by a mutation in the DNA of lymphocyte blood cells. In most of patients (95%), the mutation occurs in B-lymphocytes (a source of antibodies). In the other 5% of patients, the mutation occurs within T-lymphocyte cells or in NK-cells. Chronic lymphoblastic leukema progresses gradually; however, over time, the abnormal cells will reproduce and out number the normal blood cells in the bone marrow and lymph nodes.
Although chronic lymphoblastic leukemia is irreversible, it is manageable with proper treatments.
This type of leukemia occurs when blood stem cells mutate into granulocyte cells. These mutated cells slowly build up in the blood and bone marrow. Chronic mylogenour leukemia is present mostly in adults. Rarely, the disease may affect children..
Common Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms may vary depending on the type and development of the leukemia. The most common symptoms associated with leukemia are:
- Fevers, chills, or night sweats.
- An overall feeling of weakness, tiredness or fatigue.
- Successive infections due to the lack of normal functioning white blood cells
- Weight loss: Many patients lose weight due to lack of appetite
- Anemia: Anemia develops in response to a lowered healthy red blood cell count
- Tender/swollen lymph nodes usually in the neck and/or armpit areas
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Discomfort felt in the bone and joints
- Shortness of breath
- Easy bleeding and bruising caused by a low platelet count
- The presence of Petechiae: small red spots under the skin
Symptoms present in acute types of leukemia:
- Severe infections
- Nose bleeds
- Loss of muscle control
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
National Cancer Institute. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
WebMD. Retrieved February 6, 2011.