Leukemia, commonly known as blood cancer is a type of cancer that affects the blood-forming cells of the body, such as the bone marrow. It is the most common cancer in children and has an excellent outcome if treated at the right time with right treatment.
There are various types of leukemia depending on the type of blood cells involved. It can be acute or chronic type, acute leukemias are more common in children. Certain types of Leukemia like ALL (Acute lymphoblastic leukemia) is more common in children than adults. Leukemia usually affects white blood cells. In leukemia , the bone marrow produces an abnormally large number of abnormal white blood cells which are immature in nature.
The following are common signs and symptoms:
Leukemia is thought to develop when some blood cells' genetic material, or DNA, undergoes changes (genetic mutations). When this happens, the production of blood cells becomes uncontrollable. These abnormal cells start occupying the bone marrow space resulting in fewer healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Leukemia is classified based on its rate of progression and the type of cells involved.
The first classification is based on how quickly leukemia progresses:
Acute Leukemia: In acute leukemia, abnormal blood cells are immature blood cells (blasts). They are unable to carry out their normal functions and multiply rapidly, causing the disease to worsen rapidly. Acute leukemia necessitates prompt and aggressive treatment.
Chronic Leukemia: More mature blood cells are involved in chronic leukemia. These blood cells replicate or accumulate at a slower rate and can function normally for some time. Some types of chronic leukemia have no early symptoms and can go undetected or undiagnosed for years. This type of leukemia is more common in adults.
The second classification is determined by the type of white blood cell that is affected:
Lymphocytic leukemia (LL). This type of leukemia affects lymphoid cells (lymphocytes), which are responsible for the formation of lymphoid or lymphatic tissue Lymphatic tissue makes up your immune system.
Myelogenousleukemia myeloid cells are affected by this type of leukemia.
Some risk factors for developing certain types of leukemia include:
If leukemia is suspected based on any signs or symptoms ,then the child is advised to do the , following diagnostic tests:
Treatment for your leukemia is dependent on a variety of factors. Your leukemia treatment options are determined by your doctor based on your age and overall health, the type of leukemia you have, and whether it has spread to other parts of your body, including your central nervous system.
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for leukemia. Combinations of multiple drugs are used through intravenous , oral and intrathecal route to kill the leukemia cells.
Targeted therapy is used for some type of leukemia, like CML.
Radiation therapy is usually avoided in children but only given to cases where there is spread of disease to the central nervous system (brain).
Bone marrow transplant (BMT), also known as hematopoietic stem cell transplant is a type treatment which is advised for high risk leukemias whodon’t respond well to only chemotherapy treatment and also for relapsed cases. In this treatment process, disease bone marrow is replaced by norml bone marrow from a healthy donor.