Leukemia

by: Jake Thomas & Zayd Al-asadi
Group Name: Disorder Experts

Definition

Leukemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, which includes the bone marrow and also the lymphatic system. There are different types of leukemia: some forms are most common among children and others are more common in adults. Leukemia is caused by the bone marrow producing abnormal white blood cells (which don't function properly). It generally starts in the white blood cells, which are potent infection fighters.

Types of Leukemia:

  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Causes

Scientists have not reached a general conclusion on the exact causes of leukemia. It is believed to occur when some blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA. Certain abnormalities cause the cell to grow and divide more rapidly and to continue living when normal cells would die. Over time, these abnormal cells can crowd out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to fewer healthy blood cells and causing the signs and symptoms of leukemia.

The symptoms of leukemia may vary, but generally include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Persistent fatigue/weakness
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Losing Weight without trying
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Easy bleeding/bruising
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Tiny red spots in skin
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Bone Pain

Tests

When searching for leukemia, doctors generally do a routine blood test. This is done before symptoms begin, just as a precaution. Along with blood tests, there can also be physical exams and bone marrow tests that can be conducted to determine if one has leukemia.

Incidences/Statistics

For children throughout the world, leukemia is the most common cancer, accounting for almost 1/3 cancers. For children 0-14 years, 11/100,000 will be affected. 45/100,000 will be affected between the ages of 15-39. 412/100,000 will be affected by leukemia from ages 40-older.

Leukemia prevention is almost non-existent, as there is no known way to prevent most types of leukemia. Some types of leukemia may be prevented by avoiding high doses of radiation, exposure to the chemical benzene, smoking and other tobacco use, or certain types of chemotherapy used to treat other types of cancer.

Factors

There are several factors that may increase the risk of a person developing leukemia, such as:

  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Certain blood Disorders
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Smoking
  • Family history of leukemia

The treatment for leukemia is extensive, and particularly depends upon what type of leukemia you have and how long you have had it/how much it has affected your body. Common treatments to fight this disease include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant

Cited Sources

"Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)." National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

"Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)." National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

"Cancer in Children and Adolescents." National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Hammic, John A. "Leukemia." Definition. Suncrest, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

"Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

"Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.