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Overview

Leukemia - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Leukemia?

Blood cell cancer is also called leukemia. Blood cells have broad categories and include, WBCs (white blood cells), platelets and RBCs (red blood cells). Leukemia generally implies white blood cell cancer. WBCs are essential components of the immune system. They defend the body from invading viruses, fungi and bacteria in addition to foreign substances and abnormal cells. When affected with leukemia, the WBCs become abnormal in their functioning. They rapidly divide and over grow the normal cells. WBCs are generally formed in the marrow of the bones, but few WBC types are even produced in the spleen, thymus gland and lymph nodes. Once they have been created, WBCs travel throughout the body in the lymph and blood, having a greater concentration in the spleen and lymph nodes. The leukemia onset may be chronic or acute in nature. The cancerous cell rapidly multiply in acute type of leukemia. The disease gradually progresses in case of chronic leukemia and the initial symptoms might be quite mild. The cell’s type can also be the basis of classification for leukemia. Leukemia having myeloid cells or myelogenous leukemia is very severe. Monocytes or granulocytes are formed from immature cells or myeloid cells. Lymphocytic leukemia involves lymphocytes.

The four main kinds of leukemia are:

  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia- It may take place in adults and children. It is the commonest type of leukemia.
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)- It mostly occurs in children.
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)- It mostly affects adults.
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)- People older than 55 years of age are mostly affected by it. Rarely does it affect children. A rare CLL subtype is hairy cell leukemia. It is named so due to cancerous lymphocytes appearing so when viewed with a microscope.

The causes for leukemia aren’t known. Several factors however are known to increase the risks for it.

They include:

  • A familial leukemia history
  • Smoking
  • Genetic conditions like Down syndrome
  • Blood disorders like myelodysplastic syndrome, also called pre leukemia
  • Previous cancer treatment with radiation or chemotherapy
  • High exposure to radiation
  • Chemical exposure like benzene

Organs that are affected or infiltrated by cancerous cells, might also show symptoms due to leukemia. For instance, if the CNS gets affected by cancer, it may result in nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches, seizures and muscle control loss.

Leukemia may spread to other body parts like:

  • The lungs
  • Heart
  • Testes
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Kidneys
Can't be cured, but treatment helps Require medical diagnosis Lab test required
Symptoms
Cancer-related fatigue, chills, dizziness, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. Blood in stool, diarrhoea and nausea. Swollen lymph nodes. Unintentional weight loss. Rashes or red spots on the body. Pain in the bones or joints.

Popular Health Tips

Leukemia - Different Treatment Modalities That Can Help!

MBBS, MD, FICH
Hematologist, Ludhiana
Leukemia - Different Treatment Modalities That Can Help!

You have probably heard of the gemstone hematite, it means bloodstone in Latin, and the word heme means blood in Greek, thus giving rise to hematology or the study of blood.  But hematology is more inclusive than that because it also concerns itself with the study of organs that form blood and diseases that plague blood. One such deadly disease is leukemia i.e. cancer of the blood cells. 

Most leukemia patients are adults, thus negating the popular conception that the blood cancer only affects the young.  The average patient is an elderly white male. Leukemia occurs when the white blood cells in a person’s blood multiply exponentially and begin to crowd out the resources that red blood cells and platelets need to function - these cells become dysfunctional and die as a result.  The result is a sick and weak body which is deprived of the red blood cells and platelets necessary to be functional, and a greatly elevated level of dysfunctional white blood cells which are not capable of protecting the body from invasive diseases.

A person’s bone marrow can overproduce two types of white blood cells, thus leading to two types of Leukemia:  lymphoid and myeloid. Because these cells are overproduced, they are incapable of protecting the body from disease and infection.  The result is multiple organ failures because the few remaining red blood cells and platelets are unable to supply oxygen and other vital nutrients to organs, and they are unable to carry away toxic waste and carbon dioxide gas.  People with Leukemia are more prone to uncontrolled bleeding and bruising because they lack the platelets needed for the blood to efficiently clot. People with Leukemia tend to become anemic because they don’t have enough red blood cells (which carry the iron their body needs to survive.)

A person can have one of two types of Leukemia i.e acute or chronic.  

  • Acute Leukemia is an aggressive cancer because most of the increased, immature white blood cells are dysfunctional and are unable to protect the body from opportunistic diseases and infections.  
  • Chronic Leukemia is less severe and serious because only some of the increased and immature white blood cells are dysfunctional - this means that they can protect the body better and that there are more red blood cells and platelets that allow the body to function.  

While it is unknown what the causes of Leukemia are, people with cancer tend to have certain abnormal chromosomes, which do not cause cancer.  While there is no magic bullet to prevent a person from getting Leukemia, not smoking, and avoiding radiation, and exposure to certain chemicals seems to help.  Cancer tends to be genetic as well.

Leukemia can be treated in the following ways:

With chemotherapy, medicines are used to kill the cancerous cells in the blood and bone marrow. Radiation is targeted to a specific part of the body where cancer has grown in excess, and either kills or retards the growth of these cells.  Biological therapy uses certain medicines to strengthen the immune system to fight and kill off the cancerous cells.

Targeted therapy blocks growth of the genes and/or proteins that leukemia cells need to grow through various medicines. Stem cells transplant is a new technology which replaces leukemia producing cells in bone marrow and the body with ones that make normal blood cells.  Recipients get initial high doses of chemotherapy to kill off leukemia producing cells, and then they get an intravenous infusion of new stem cells. The idea is to flood the body with cells that produce healthy blood cells, platelets, and plasma. People can have their spleen removed if it is cancerous and affecting the function of other organs.

While there is no one magic bullet for understanding leukemia because it is a very complex cancer, new research is allowing scientists, medical researchers, and doctors to better treat leukemia patients.

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Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - Know The Facts About It!

MBBS, DM - Oncology, MD - General Medicine
Oncologist, Nashik
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - Know The Facts About It!

CML refers to Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. This type of cancer originates in the bone marrow. It occurs when a genetic change takes place in immature myeloid cells. These cells are responsible for the production of platelets, red blood cells and many types of white blood cells. As a result of these changes an abnormal gene known as BCR-ABL is formed. In turn, this gene converts the myeloid cells into CML cells.

As cancer progresses, the cells spill out of the bone marrow and enter the circulatory system. The cells are transported through the blood to other organs and can settle in various other parts of the body. CML is a slow growing cancer but in some cases, it can turn into fast-growing cancer that is hard to treat. It is more common amongst adult and is rarely seen among children.

Studies on CML are directed towards both the understanding of how cancer develops and how it can be treated. Scientists are making steady progress towards understanding how a person’s DNA can change and in turn cause a mutating of bone marrow cells into CML cells. For this, researchers are studying what changes can make a cell grow fast, live longer than usual etc.

There are a few drugs that have proven to be effective in the treatment of CML. These drugs target proteins like BCR-ABL. However, not all patients benefit from it. Hence, studies are now underway to evaluate how it could be combined with other forms of treatment such as cancer vaccines, interferon or chemotherapy to be more effective. It is also being combined with other medicines to study the effects.

New drugs have also been developed to target and treat CML. In cases where CML cells create a mutation known as T315I by changing the BCR-ABL cells, the cancer is resistant to many different types of therapy. This includes targeted therapies like nilotinib, imatinib, and dasatinib. Thus, drugs are being created that can treat this mutation. Another type of drug that is being developed is known as farnesyl transferase inhibitors. In some tests, these are also being combined with imatinib.

Vaccinations that can protect a person from CML are also being studied. For this several vaccines have been developed and are currently being tested for effectiveness. CMLVAX100 is one such vaccine. Some studies have shown that when this vaccine is combined with imatinib, it is more effective.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3452 people found this helpful

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - Why Does It Happen?

MBBS, MD, FICH
Hematologist, Ludhiana
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - Why Does It Happen?

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells. It is characterized by an increased and unregulated growth of myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood.

Epidemiology, Incidence, Prevalence
In Western countries, CML accounts for 15–25% of all adult leukemias and 14% of leukemias overall (including the pediatric population, where CML is less common).

Why Does It Happen?
Neither you get it from your parents or infections, nor your smoking habits and diet seem to raise any chance of getting it. The only risk is if you've been in contact with high levels of radiation. Higher incidence of CML was seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing survivors. The rate of CML in these individuals seems to peak about 10 years after the exposure.

How would you know about it?

  • CML has three phases: Chronic, Accelerated, and Blastic
  • Chronic- It is the earliest stage. You might not even have symptoms.
  • Accelerated- The number of blood cells that don't work right increases Symptoms are as follows
  • Night sweats due to hypermetabolism
  • Dyspnea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Left upper quadrant abdominal pain from spleen infarction
  • Pain in your bones
  • Stroke
  • Changes in your vision
  • Ringing in your ear
  • Fatigue, weight loss
  • Loss of energy
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Bruise

Blastic- The cells multiply and take over the healthy blood cells and platelets.

Symptoms-

  1. Thrombocytopenia
  2. Basophilia
  3. Anemia
  4. Rapidly enlarging spleen in blast crisis
  5. Skin changes including bumps, tumors
  6. Swollen gland
  7. Infections
  8. Bleeding, petechiae, and ecchymosis
  9. Bone pain
  10. Fever
  11. Investigations

Complete blood count- To see how many white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets you have.

  1. FISH test (fluorescence in situ hybridization)- It is a detailed lab test of your genes to see for Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome in bone marrow cells.
  2. Polymerase chain reaction test- It is a lab test that looks for the BCR-ABL gene, which is involved in the process that tells your body to make too many of the wrong kind of white blood cells.

Ultrasonography- to see for splenomegaly.
Bone marrow test. It helps you figure out how advanced your cancer is. The doctor uses a needle to take a sample, usually from your hip bone.

Treatment

  1. The goal of your treatment is to destroy the leukemia blood cells in your body and restore healthy ones to a normal level. It's usually not possible to get rid of all the bad cells.
  2. If you get treatment during the early, chronic phase of CML, it can help prevent the disease from moving to a more serious level.
  3. Doctors usually give drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) first. They slow down the rate at which your body makes leukemia cells.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

2605 people found this helpful

Understanding The Survival Rate Of Childhood Leukaemia!

MBBS, MD - Oncology, DNB - Super Speciality, Immuno Oncology
Oncologist, Delhi
Understanding The Survival Rate Of Childhood Leukaemia!

The diagnosis of leukemia in a child is followed by a discussion regarding the treatment and tenure required for complete recovery. The way in which the doctors go through the treatment after diagnosis of leukemia is based on various factors. Such factors that influence the outlook of the child are termed as prognosis.

These prognostic factors help in taking the decision regarding what sort of treatment should be offered to the child. Treatments may either be standard or intensive based on the prognostic factors. These factors, however, are vital in treating acute lymphocytic Leukemia than the other type called the acute myelogenous Leukemia. Above all these, survival rates are discussed and these rates play an important role. Parents of the child affected may at times insist that they get to know the survival rates.

The 5-year survival rates: The 5-year survival statistics are a common method used for discussing survival rates. This is the rate that denotes the percentage of children who live for a minimum of 5 years after the diagnosis of cancer. In the case of acute leukemia, it is rare for the cancer cells to come back after five years and so, you can come to a conclusion that the child has recovered.

Prognostic factors: The survival rates are based on a number of children who are diagnosed, but this is not conclusive. The type of Leukemia also plays a vital role. There are also various other prognostic factors that affect the child's outlook such as age, gender, weight, initial blood counts, and the way the child is responding to treatments. However, the survival rates are roughly the best estimates even after taking these factors into account.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia - 5-year survival rates
The survival rate for acute lymphocytic leukemia is greater than 85℅ and there is a vast improvement in this percentage over a period of time.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia -5-year survival rates
The cumulative survival rate for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is about 60℅ - 70℅. There was a substantial increase is this percentage over time. There are a few subtypes which have a different percentage of survival rates.

Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia - 5-year survival rates
50℅ is the survival rate for this type of Leukemia.

Remission
The stage where there is no sign of Leukemia after 6 weeks of treatment even after the performance of lab tests which are very sensitive, it is called as remission. The remission stage does not necessarily mean that

Leukemia has been cured completely.
In conclusion, there is a significant increase in the percentage of survival rates when it comes to cancer. It has increased from 10℅ to 90℅ in the past few years. Factually speaking, there are approximately 375000 adult survivors in the United States who were diagnosed with cancer in their childhood. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Oncologist.

4051 people found this helpful

Angioedema - An Overview

MBBS(Hons), MD (Gold Medalist) Dermatology
Dermatologist, Kolkata
Angioedema - An Overview

Allergic reactions are the body’s way of responding to foreign substances. The body recognizes these substances (be it food, pollens, insect bites, etc.) as antigens and produces antibodies. These antibodies can cause various reactions depending on the severity of the allergen, be it skin rash, hives, or angioedema. In severe cases, there could be swelling of the tongue and the respiratory tract, leading to choking of the airways.

Literally, angioedema means swelling of the blood vessels. These are located in the underlying layers of the skin and their swelling can lead to formation of giant hives, which can be extremely itchy, reddish, and oval or circular in shape. The affected area I usually warm and painful to touch.

Causes

Angioedema is caused due to the following:

  1. Food allergies including eggs, peanuts, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, chocolates, etc.

  2. Insect bites or stings

  3. Pollen, latex, animal dander, poison ivy, and other common allergens

  4. Medications like aspirin, penicillin, ibuprofen, and some blood pressure medicines

  5. In response to blood transfusions

  6. Auto-immune disorders like lupus

  7. Conditions like leukemia and thyroid disorders

  8. Infections like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus infections, Epstein-Barr infections, etc.

  9. Weather conditions like extremes of cold, heat, or pressure

  10. Extreme emotional stress

  11. Genetic angioedema, passed on from parents to children, which could last forever

While hives usually develop without any warning, the following condition puts a person at risk of developing angioedema.

  1. Predisposition to allergic reactions (highly active immune system)

  2. Previous history of allergies

  3. Genetic history of allergies or angioedema

Most angioedema cases are limited to the skin and hives, but there could be severe cases leading to respiratory distress.

Diagnosis

If it is the first instance of hives, the doctor would ask detailed questions about similar occurrence in the past. They would also check if there are similar hives on other parts of the body like the back, which you may have missed. If required, this examination is followed by allergy testing and blood testing. The allergy testing will help identify if you are allergic to some of the common things which cause allergy. The blood test will look for your eosinophil count, which is usually high in people prone to allergies. C1 esterase inhibitor test and complement particles also can be checked, if there is suspicion of genetic angioedema.

Treatment

This would depend on the severity of symptoms

  1. In case of angioedema, admission in hospital may be needed.
  2. Tracheostomy may also become essential to save patients life.
  3. Vigorous therapy with intravenous medications like steroid, antihistamines and others may be needed.
  4. Under medical treatment, antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine are prescribed. However, severe cases may require steroids like prednisolone.

Prevention

Once you know what caused it, avoid exposure to these substances and further attacks can be prevented. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor.

2151 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

My mother was diagnosed for CLL after lot of tests including PET scan 5 months ago and the doctor said it is in first stage and needs no urgent treatment. Whether the treatment can be postponed for this?

MD - Radiothrapy, MBBS
Oncologist, Pune
CLL is slow growing disease. There is option of only observation in this patients. But you need to do regular follow up. There are some conditions in CLL when we can start chemo. Please consult me privately for more details.
6 people found this helpful

I am suffering from leukaemia currently my HGB 8.8 and my platelets 4 lakhs. How to recover from leukemia?

MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
Apart from taking symptomatic treatment plan for chemotherapy treatment and than plan for bone marrow transplant

What is the reason of lymphocytes increase ranges? Tell me reason? And also what is the problem after increase range of lymphocytes.

MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
It increases during viral infection or during chronic infectious disease or many times there is no reason unless until proven otherwise

What is lymphocyte, and is it normal if my Lymphocyte percentage is 42.4%, if normal range is 20-40%.

MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
It is a type of Wbc and is usually found in lymphatic system and increase in the level indicates some chronic infection

My health is problem in eosinophilia kindly suggestions any right medicine take in my problem.

Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS)
Ayurveda, Zirakpur
Take Curcumin 90 to 95% capsule 1 twice daily. Take sanjivani vati 2 b.i.d. With warm water. Kantkari avaleh may be taken 1 tsp b.i.d. Take for a month and report.

Table of Content

What is Leukemia?

The four main kinds of leukemia are:

They include:

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No Tobacco Day Special: 6 Deadly Chemicals in Cigarettes That Are Killing You Slowly!
Tobacco kills irrespective of religion, culture, gender and age. Thus, in order to create awareness regarding the hazardous effects of consuming tobacco an initiative was started in 1987 by the world health organization.

Tobacco is the chief ingredient of cigarette and there are over 4000 chemicals compounds created by burning cigarette, 69 of those are known to cause cancer as well as damage the heart and its blood vessels! 6 of these chemicals and their actual usage and side effects are listed below:



1) Nicotine: A naturally occurring chemical in tobacco, which when reaches your brain triggers adrenaline, by increasing your blood pressure and gives you a high. It is a chemical which makes you addictive to cigarette.

2) Arsenic: a common chemical used in rat poison. Exposure to high levels of arsenic can be fatal. Over time, it accumulates in smokers bodies and can lead to liver and kidney damage, irregular heartbeat and shortage of red and white blood cells.

3) Formaldehyde: formaldehyde is a colorless, strong smelling chemical which is used to preserve dead bodies and is found in cigarette smoke. Short term exposure to it can cause nausea, skin irritation and burning in eyes, nose and throat, it is a lesser known fact that long term exposure to it can cause cancer.

4) Benzene: a flammable liquid commonly found in gasoline, coal tar and crude oil. Long term exposure to benzene decreases red blood cells, damages bone marrow and increases your risk of blood cancer (leukemia).

5) Polonium: a highly radioactive substance and regular consumption can cause diarrhea, vomiting and hair fall. Over time it causes severe damage to kidney and liver along with your DNA.

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Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice