Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Health Care and Leukemia

One of the most dreaded diagnoses you can get from your doctor, and one that everyone fears, is the word cancer. In particular, those who are diagnosed with Leukemia have a difficult time understanding why and how they contract this disease. Children can be especially hard hit with various types of leukemia; but caught early enough, the outcome can be very positive.

Leukemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Many types of leukemia exist. Some forms of leukemia are more common in children. Other forms of leukemia occur mostly in adults. The disease starts in the white blood cells; in people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don't properly function.

According to the Leukemia Research Foundation, every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer – more than 176,000 new cases are expected this year in the United States. More than 310,000 Americans are living with leukemia. This disease causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20; however, leukemia is diagnosed 10 times more often in adults than children. Every day 143 Americans are diagnosed with leukemia, and 66 lose the fight. Much more detailed material can be found at this website: http://www.allbloodcancers.org/disease-information-support .

The exact cause of leukemia is unknown. Different kinds of leukemia are believed to have different causes. Both inherited and environmental (non-inherited) factors are believed to be involved. Risk factors include smoking, ionizing radiation, some chemicals (such as benzene), prior chemotherapy, and Down syndrome. People with a family history of leukemia are also at higher risk.

There are four main types of leukemia: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), as well as a number of less common types. Leukemia is part of a broader group of neoplasms which affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, known as tumors of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues.

Treatment may involve some combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and bone marrow transplant, in addition to supportive care and palliative care as needed. Certain types of leukemia may be managed with watchful waiting. The success of treatment depends on the type of leukemia and the age of the person.

The average five-year survival rate is 57% in the United States. In children under 15, the five-year survival is greater than 60 to 85%, depending on the type of leukemia. In people with acute leukemia who are cancer-free after five years, the cancer is unlikely to return. More details on Leukemia can be located at this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leukemia .

According to the American Cancer Fund, leukemia symptoms can vary widely, depending on the type of leukemia you have. Common leukemia symptoms include:

·         Fever or chills 
·         Recurrent nosebleeds
·         Persistent fatigue, weakness
·         Frequent or severe infections
·         Bone pain or tenderness
·         Losing weight without trying
·         Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
·         Easy bleeding or bruising
·         Excessive sweating, especially at night

Leukemia symptoms are often vague and not specific. You may overlook early leukemia symptoms because they may resemble symptoms of the flu and other common illnesses.
Rarely, leukemia may be discovered during blood tests for some other condition. Much more info on this topic can be found at this site: https://americancancerfund.org/cancer-types/leukemia/ .

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphocytic leukemia or acute lymphoid leukemia, is a fast-growing cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. About 6,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALL each year. It is the most common type of leukemia in children under age 15. However, it can affect people of any age. The cause of ALL is unknown, according to the National Cancer Institute.

If you are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia, or an immune system or genetic disease, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant (also called a BMT) may be a treatment option for you. Learning more about your disease and treatment options will help you make informed decisions about your care. A significant amount of material concerning this disease can also be found at this site: http://bethematch.org/For-Patients-and-Families/Learning-about-your-disease/.  

ALL progresses rapidly, replacing healthy cells that produce functional lymphocytes with leukemia cells that can't mature properly, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The leukemia cells are carried in the bloodstream to other organs and tissues, including the brain, liver, lymph nodes and testes, where they continue to grow and divide. The growing, dividing and spreading of these leukemia cells may result in a number of possible symptoms. You can find options for treatment and more at this website: http://www.cancercenter.com/leukemia/ .

It is impossible in one short article to discuss all the ramifications about leukemia, its affect on your body, and possible outcomes. The list of websites in this information can serve as an initial guide to help with how to begin researching more options and resources to know more about leukemia. If you feel that you or someone you know may be experiencing certain health issues symptomatic to this disease, visit your health care provider or family physician for a more thorough diagnosis. The sooner you can begin treatment, the better opportunity you have for long term survival. Always consult a doctor or trained medical practitioner for any problems regarding your health.

Until next time.

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