Leukaemia is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Bone marrow is where blood cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are made.
There are different types of Leukaemia, some affect children and other forms occur mostly in adults such as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Acute Mylogenous Leukaemia, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Chronic Mylogenous Leukaemia.
When a person is suffering from leukaemia, the bone marrow starts to produce inadequate quantity of abnormal white blood cells, called leukaemia cells. They perform differently when compared to normal white blood cells. They grow continuously and faster than normal cells.
Signs and symptoms of Leukaemia
Signs and symptoms of Leukaemia depend on the type. However, there are some common signs of Leukaemia including:
Tests and diagnosis for Leukaemia
Doctors may be able to detect Leukaemia symptoms during a routine blood test. If this happens, he may prescribe the following tests and diagnosis:
- Physical exam: You will undergo a complete physical examination for any physical signs of leukaemia, such as pale skin from anaemia, swelling of your lymph nodes, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.
- Blood tests: Your doctor will take your blood sample, which will determine if you have abnormal levels of white blood cells or platelets, which may suggest leukaemia.
- Bone marrow test: Your doctor may remove a sample of bone marrow from your hipbone and send it to a laboratory to look for leukaemia cells.
Additionally, you may require further tests to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the type of leukaemia and its extent in your body.
Available Treatment for Leukaemia
Treatment for leukaemia depends on multiple factors including your age and overall health, the type of leukaemia you have, and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. Available treatments for leukaemia are as follows:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat leukaemia. This drug treatment uses chemicals to kill leukaemia cells. Depending on the type of leukaemia you have, you may receive a single drug or a combination of drugs. These drugs may be taken orally, or injected directly into a vein.
- Biological therapy: In a Biological therapy, doctors use different treatments to strengthen your immune system which then attacks leukaemia cells.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific susceptibilities within your cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy beams to destroy leukaemia cells and stop their growth. Depending on the leukaemia type, you may receive radiation in one specific area of your body where there is a collection of leukaemia cells, or your whole body.
- Stem cell transplant: It is a procedure to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. Prior to this process, you may receive high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy your diseased bone marrow.
A diagnosis of leukaemia may be emotionally distressing. Hence, it is vital to keep friends and family close. In addition, talk with someone who had faced similar situations. Bonding with such personalities will boost your morale and recovery process.