Leukemia: What You Should Know

Leukemia is serious medical condition. It’s a malignancy (cancer) of blood cells. Usually, leukemia involves the production of abnormal white blood cells that is the cells responsible for fighting infection. Leukemia can afffect both children and adullts. In children, leukemia is the most common type of cancer, but in adults, leukemia is diagnosed. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type in young children, and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) can occur in both adults and children.

Because of the high number of abnormal white blood cells that are not able to fight infection, the disease can however, mar the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets thereby causing sudden deaths in the people suffering from the disease.
There are types of leukemia

They are categorised on certain factors like age, how quickly the disease progresses (acute or chronic), and the kind of white blood cell that is affected (myeloid cells or lymphoid cells):

The types include

  • Acute, meaning the disease worsens rapidly and requires quick, potent treatment. Abnormal cells are immature blood cells called blasts, which cannot function correctly.
  • Chronic, meaning the disease progresses slowly and may not produce any initial symptoms. Abnormal cells are mature blood cells that can function normally for a period of time.
  • Myelogenous leukemia begins in the myeloid cells deep in the bone marrow. Myeloid cells normally produce red and white blood cells as well as platelets, which help clot blood.
  • Lymphocytic leukemia affects lymphoid cells, which form the immune system’s lymph tissue throughout the body.


In some patients, the symptoms may not be easy to spot out, because, leukamia disease also have symptoms like every other sickness/diseases. Generally, the symptoms of leukemia common symptoms include:

  • Chills, fever or night sweats
  • Persistent weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath upon exertion
  • Pale skin
  • Pinhead-sized red dots under the skin
  • Slow-healing cuts and excess bleeding
  • Joint or bone aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Can leukemia be prevented? There isn’t any yet approved way of preventing leukemia from occuring. Some persons are only known to be at high risk of having leukemia such as people who have been treated for another cancer with radiation and chemotherapy, or those who are taking drugs that suppress the immune system, as well as people with certain genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome.

Usually, to diagnose leukemia, a sample of the patients blood would be tested. For the doctor to confirm the diagnoses, a biopsy of the bone marrow to look for abnormal cells would be carried out.

Treatment for leukemia depends on the type of leukemia and other factors such as the patient’s age, white blood cell count and genetics of the cancer.

The main treatment is chemotherapy, which involves injecting a combination of drugs in the blood and sometimes in the spinal fluid. In some cases, after a chemotherapy has be done, a bone marrow transplant would be done. The bone marror transplant which is very expensive in most countries is done by replacing the bone marrow by the healthy bone marrow of the donor to eradicate the disease.

Additional treatments may involve radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

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