Cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, such as the lymphatic system and bone marrow, is known as leukaemia. There are various forms of leukaemia. Some leukaemia types are more prevalent in youngsters. Most cases of other types of leukaemia are in adults. Usually, leukaemia affects white blood cells.
Bone marrow is one of the blood-forming tissues that can develop leukaemia. Numerous varieties include chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia, and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Many patients with leukaemias that grow slowly don’t exhibit any symptoms. Fatigue, weight loss, recurrent infections, and easy bruising or bleeding are all possible symptoms of leukaemias that grow quickly.
What is Leukemia ?
Leukaemia is a cancer that affects the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the lymphatic system and bone marrow.
There are various forms of leukaemia. Some leukaemia types are more prevalent in youngsters. Most cases of other types of leukaemia are in adults.
White blood cells are frequently involved in leukaemia. Your white blood cells are effective infection-fighting agents; they typically grow and divide in an organised manner as required by your body. But in leukaemia patients, the bone marrow makes an excessive number of aberrant, dysfunctional white blood cells.
Depending on the type of leukaemia, there are many leukaemia symptoms. Leukaemia symptoms and indicators frequently seen include:
- Fever or chills.
- Persistent fatigue, weakness.
- Frequent or severe infections.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen.
- Easy bleeding or bruising.
- Recurrent nosebleeds.
- Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
The precise causes of leukaemia are unknown to scientists. It appears to be the result of both hereditary and environmental influences.
How leukemia forms
Leukaemia is typically assumed to develop when some blood cells have alterations (mutations) in their DNA or genetic makeup. The instructions that inform a cell what to do are encoded in its DNA. The DNA often instructs the cell to develop at a specific rate and to die at a specific time. The blood cells in leukaemia are instructed to keep growing and dividing by the mutations.
The manufacturing of blood cells then spirals out of control. Leukaemia signs and symptoms are brought on by less healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets over time as a result of these abnormal blood cells crowding out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.
How leukemia is classified
Leukaemia is categorised by doctors according to the cells affected and the rate at which it progresses.
The first classification method takes into account the rate of leukaemia progression:
- Chronic leukaemia. Blasts are young blood cells that are aberrant in acute leukaemia. Because they swiftly multiply and are unable to do their regular tasks, the condition quickly gets worse. Treatment for acute leukaemia must be robust and prompt.
- persistent leukaemia. The many forms of chronic leukaemia are diverse. Some trigger the production of either too few or too many cells. More advanced blood cells are involved in chronic leukaemia. For a while, these blood cells can continue to operate normally despite their slower rate of replication or accumulation. Initially, certain types of chronic leukaemia don’t show any symptoms, and they might go unreported or untreated for years.
The second type of classification is by type of white blood cell affected:
- Leukaemia lymphocytic. Lymphocytes, which make up lymphoid or lymphatic tissue, are impacted by this type of leukaemia. Your immune system is made up of lymphatic tissue.
- Myelogenous leukaemia (my-uh-LOHJ-uh-nus). Myeloid cells are affected by this kind of leukaemia. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelet-producing cells all develop from myeloid cells.
Types of leukemia
The major types of leukemia are:
- Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL).The most typical form of leukaemia in young children is this one. Adults are also susceptible to ALL.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).The most prevalent chronic adult leukaemia, CLL, can cause years to pass without symptoms requiring treatment.
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).Most people with this kind of leukaemia are adults. Before entering a phase in which the leukaemia cells develop more rapidly, a person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years.
- Other types.Other, rarer types of leukaemia exist, including hairy cell leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders.
Numerous variables affect how your leukaemia will be treated. Depending on your age, general health, the type of leukaemia you have, and whether cancer has spread to other areas of your body, such as the central nervous system, your doctor will decide on your leukaemia treatment options.
Leukaemia is frequently treated with the following methods:
- Chemotherapy.The main treatment for leukaemia is chemotherapy. Chemicals are used in this medication to kill leukaemia cells.You can be given a single medication or a cocktail of medications, depending on the type of leukaemia you have. These medications can be taken as pills or they can be injected right into a vein.
- Targeted therapy.Targeted medication therapies concentrate on particular defects that are prevalent in cancer cells. Targeted medication therapies can kill cancer cells by preventing these aberrations. To determine whether targeted therapy might be beneficial for you, your leukaemia cells will be examined.
- Radiation therapy.X-rays and other high-energy beams are used in radiation therapy to harm leukaemia cells and halt their proliferation. You lie on a table during radiation therapy as a huge machine moves around you, aiming the radiation at certain areas of your body.Radiation treatments can target a single region of your body with a concentration of leukaemia cells or they can cover your entire body. A bone marrow transplant can be prepared for with radiation therapy.
- Bone marrow transplant.By replacing diseased bone marrow with leukaemia-free stem cells that will regenerate healthy bone marrow, a bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant, aids in the restoration of healthy stem cells.You get extremely high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy prior to a bone marrow transplant to kill your leukaemia-producing bone marrow. After that, you receive an injection of blood-forming stem cells to aid in bone marrow regeneration.You might be able to use your own stem cells or get them from a donor.
- Immunotherapy.Your immune system is used in immunotherapy to combat cancer. Due to the cancer cells’ ability to create proteins that aid in their concealment from immune system cells, your body’s disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer. Immunotherapy affects that process in order to work.