What is a Leukaemia?
This is the first question that comes into our mind, doesn’t it? It is a type of blood cancer in which there is an abnormal over-production of the white blood cells in the body. These excess white blood cells come in the way of normal functioning blood cells. As a result, infection fighting capacity of an individual is hampered.
Due to excessive formation of abnormal white blood cells, the deficiency of normal functional WBCs starts occurring. As a result, the immune system of the body starts shutting down. This means body can no longer fight the various disease-causing micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi etc.
Leukaemia is most commonly found in children but that doesn’t mean that adults don’t get it. Leukaemia can be both fast growing and slowly developing. This distinction is important as it determines the course of leukaemia treatment for an individual. The major difference between the acute and chronic leukaemia is that in the former the condition worsens in a very short time while in the latter the condition still worsens but at a comparatively slower pace.
What are the Risk factors?
Like all other cancers, leukaemia doesn’t have a specific causal factor. But it has known association with genetic and familial factors. Also, an individual can develop leukaemia after undergoing the chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for other types of cancer.
Children suffering from Down’s syndrome (a genetic disorder) are more prone to develop leukaemia.
Adults who smoke and are exposed to radiation and benzene for a long time have shown some level of association with blood cancers.
Patients with a history of “Myelodysplastic Syndromes” or “Pre-leukaemia” can also develop some form of leukaemia in later life. This makes leukaemia treatment quite difficult.
What are the symptoms of Leukaemia?
The symptoms of leukaemia include: excessive sweating, especially at night (called “night sweats”), fatigue and weakness, unexplained weight loss, bone pain and tenderness, swollen lymph nodes, enlargement of the liver (hepatomegaly) or spleen (splenomegaly), red spots on the skin (known as petechiae), easy bruising and bleeding, fever or chills and patient becomes more prone to infections.
The blood cancer can also spread to other organs such as brain, liver, heart, kidneys etc. This spread of tumour can result in malfunctioning of the organ system and this in turn can produce another set of symptoms.
How is Leukaemia diagnosed?
The most basic test done to diagnose a blood cancer is the “Complete Blood Count”. It is pretty obvious because that way we can determine the abnormal number of cells in the blood. Also, looking at WBCs, RBCs, and the Platelets will also tell about the abnormal appearance of the cells.
Biopsy is the second most important method to determine the stage, type and spread of the leukaemia. The biopsy of the bone marrow and lymph nodes can be done. Tissue biopsies of various organs can be done to assess the spread of the cancer.
How is Leukaemia treated?
Treatment of any disease, any cancer depends on how early is it detected, at what stage, and how much has it spread. Once the doctor has a clear picture about these above-mentioned factors, he/she can devise a treatment plan which can best suit the patient.
Our doctors are very well capable of doing that. They work meticulously to produce the best possible treatment outcomes of the patient condition.
Some of the most preferred leukaemia treatment methodologies are:
Chemotherapy: It involves using of certain drugs that are targeted to kill the cancer cells. Patient can be given a single drug or a combination of drugs to get the desired outcome. But the patient needs to keep in mind the side-effects associated with chemotherapy.
Radiotherapy: In this type of leukaemia treatment, the patient is exposed to high-frequency radio waves which help in killing the abnormal mass of cells from the body and further stop them from growing. It also comes with its own set of problems.
Stem cell transplantation: It is the most evolving leukaemia treatment methodology being employed to replace the diseased cells with healthy cells. It could involve either the transplant of bone marrow or in the peripheral blood stream. Although, it sounds like a good procedure it relies heavily on availability of a donor.
Immune therapies: This kind of leukaemia treatment gives a boost to the body’s immune system which starts recognising cancer cells as foreign and start attacking them.
Targeted therapy: It makes use of agents/drugs that target the vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Imatinib is one such drug being specifically used for the treatment of CML.
Is it permanent?
The main question that is being faced by the oncologists all over the world is that “will the cancer return?” Sadly, nobody has an answer to that. But that does not stop anyone to take a chance and get themselves treated.
It has been reported that 5-year survival rate for leukaemia is around 60% which are pretty good odds, we believe!
What is BloodCancerCure:
BloodCancerCure is the world’s first such organization working 24*7 on helping blood cancer patients. BloodCancerCure works for patients across the world by providing the lowest cost for bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and Bone marrow test. You can contact at +91-8448533753 to talk to our experts at BloodCancerCure for BMT treatment in India.