Blood Cancer Awareness Post 10: Leukemia

I would like to take a moment and apologize. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my articles for 9/10-9/12 will be late, and not nearly as thorough as I would like. If possible I will go back and elaborate more later.

Yesterday we talked very briefly about blood cancers in general. Over the next several days we will talk a little bit about each type of blood cancer.

Today we will be talking about Leukemia. Leukemia is a type of cancer found in the blood and bone marrow. It is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. These cells inhibit the body’s ability to fight infection, and also prevent the body from properly producing red blood cells, and platelets.

Leukemia can be either acute, or chronic. Acute types require immediate treatment, and progress quickly, where chronic types progress slowly, and often have a more “watch and wait” approach.

Leukemia is further classified as either lymphocytic or myelogenous.  Lymphocytic leukemia means that there is abnormal growth in the bone marrow cells that later become lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Myelogenous leukemia means that there is abnormal growth in the marrow cells that become RBCs, WBCs and platelets. The four main types of leukemis are:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

As for symptoms, they are varied. But can include :

  • Fever, chills, night sweats and other flu-like symptoms
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Bone pain
  • Paleness
  • Pinhead-size red spots on the skin
  • Weight loss

Treatment also varies, but we will go into that more later this month.

Tomorrow we will be talking about Lymphoma.

Until tomorrow,

Lina

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