Leukemia is a type of cancer that occurs in the bone marrow or blood cells. The disease tends to attack the people who are above 55 years old. Children under 15 years old can also develop the risk of suffering from this deadly disease. In the year 2019, according to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 61,780 people have a chance of diagnosing with Leukemia each year. The prediction says that the number of death from this life-threatening disease will be about 22,840. There is no accurate analysis of leukemia causes. Moreover, if you develop acute leukemia, it will spread rapidly. This sort of leukemia cancer gets worse in less time. On the other hand, people with chronic leukemia take a long time to show its harmful deadly sides. Furthermore, chronic leukemia cancers are more prone to be less curing.
The possibilities of treating cancer depend on the patient’s situation. Most of the time, the survival of the patients relies upon the medications they are taking. In this article, you will know some necessary information about leukemia causes, its symptoms, and treatments that may help you if you know any leukemia patient.
What are the causes of leukemia?
The scientists are still ignorant of the exact Leukemia causes. But, estimation states that the disease is mainly a result of some abnormal genetic concerns and several factors of the environment. Most probably, when the cells of Leukemia engage in various mutations in the DNA, the cells grow abnormally. As a consequence, the white blood cells lose their function causing Leukemia.
But, the reasons behind the mutation are still unknown. The most common mutation in the DNA cell following leukemia causes is the ‘chromosome translocation’. During this particular type of mutation, the chrome breaks a part of it and joins a different chromosome.
One other common mutation happens when there is an exchange of the DNA between the chromosome number 9 and 22. This situation is widely known as the Philadelphia chromosome. It creates a gene,’ BCR-ABL, which promotes the production of the cancer cells.
Some of you wonder if you can inherit the deadly disease leukemia. Well, in most cases, you will not obtain it. But, leukemia causes can become intense due to some genetic mutation situations. For instance, a common kind of condition, Li-Fraumeni Syndrome mainly develops through inheriting mutation cells. If you have a tumor gene, TP53, the likelihood of getting cancers including Leukemia is higher.
Other factors that can cause leukemia
Apart from the above-mentioned logic, several other aspects may be among the genuine considerations behind leukemia causes. Few of them are enlisting below:
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the greatest causes of getting cancer. The cigarettes and other smoking ingredients contain several cancer-causing substances. According to research, 20% of the AML leukemia is a result of cigarette smoking.
- Previous therapy: If you ever get any radiation therapy or chemotherapy, you can come across leukemia in the future. Both therapies participate in gene mutation, and they can even make certain changes in DNA cells. All these can appear in leukemia afterward.
- Too much closer contact with harmful chemicals: Owing to job and career many of you have to deal with the cancer-causing chemicals every day. People working in atomic plants or other nuclear plants have the risk of developing leukemia as they remain closer to the high radiation dosage.
- Genetic issue: People with certain kinds of genetic disorders can later in life get leukemia cancer. Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, down syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia, etc tend to cancer the leukemia disease easily.
- Bone marrow disorder: It is one of the most intense reasons following leukemia causes. A few people suffer from bone marrow disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome. This syndrome eventually brings the fearful leukemia disease.
These are some basic predicted factors that cause the disease. But, many patients get the disease even without having any of these factors.
Different types of Leukemia
After knowing the Leukemia causes, you must know what the most common types of cancer are. Usually, there are four most typical classes of leukemia. Let’s check out their kinds
CML or the chronic myeloid leukemia
CML cancer is most regularly seen in older people. It is a myeloproliferative disorder the hits around 8,400 people in the United States each year. The deadly symptoms of the disease develop slowly.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
It a type of lymphoid cell cancer that grows slowly affecting people over 55 years old. Generally, children are more likely not affected by it. Every year around 21,000 residents suffer from chronic lymphatic leukemia.
ALL or the Acute lymphatic leukemia
The children are the worst sufferer of this disease. Though cancer can also hit the adults. Similar to other leukemia causes, ALL is the result of the immature growth of the lymphoid cells. Approximately 6,000 people per year get the acute lymphatic leukemia.
AML or the acute myeloid leukemia
Leukemia types include another intense cancer, AML. The acute myeloid leukemia occurs when there is a rapid growth of myeloid cells. Both the children and the adults are the hunts of the disease. According to the estimation, every year near about 19,500 people is diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Apart from the abnormal cell mutation, another aspect that triggers the AML is the environmental factor.
Symptoms of leukemia
Taking proper leukemia treatment just after you sense the symptoms is the most ideal thing to do for recovering the disease. In some cases, if you take early treatment, there is a high possibility of curing the disease. The chronic leukemia cancer cells tend to show the symptoms lately making it difficult for the doctors to diagnose it. While the acute leukemia cancer cells are so rapid in spreading itself that sometimes you miss the chance of treating it in time.
Here is a list of few most common signs and symptoms of leukemia that you receive in earlier stages-
- Frequent infections: Due to the fast and abnormal mutation of the cells, the white blood cell malfunctions. As a result, patients may get several infections. It is one of the earliest leukemia symptoms.
- Pale skin: As the white blood cells grow severely, the activities of the red blood cells are hardly noticeable. It can cause anemia, slowing down your hemoglobin production. Hence, your skin may appear pale.
- Poor clotting in blood: Another serious sign of the leukemia is poor clotting in the blood. It results in constant bleeding and inadequate healing of the wound. Besides, sometimes, you can see purple or red spots on several body parts. If you ever come across this, immediately consult a specialist for treatment.
Other common symptoms
Leaving all the above leukemia symptoms, several other common signs occur with blood cancer, they include:
- Suffering from severe pain in bones
- Losing appetite and massive weight loss
- Sweating excessively especially during the night hours
- Fever and weakness
- Symptoms like flu
- Swollen liver
Complications of the disease
If you do not receive proper treatment from the very first stage of leukemia diagnosis, the initial symptoms and signs can become intense. The complications may make the condition more critical. If the disease turns serious, you may suffer from bleeding in the brain, which can make your mental health worse. It may even be the reason of your unconsciousness.
The bleeding may also occur in your lungs resulting in cough with blood, breathing trouble and much more. If the bleeding takes place in your stomach, you may see blood in your vomit. Besides, it will make your blood pressure drop at a considerable rate.
Treatment of Leukemia
Soon after the leukemia diagnosis, make sure to undergo the leukemia treatment as soon as possible. You will receive the treatment according to your condition, cancer stage, and type of cancer. The major treatments of dealing the leukemia cancer include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant.
Though patients with chronic leukemia have fewer chances to cure with treatment. They receive treatments just to control the symptoms of the disease. Acute cancer can be cured if it receives treatment from the initial stage. Take a glance at the brief descriptions of the treatment procedures-
It is one of the most common as well as the major treatment of the disease. Chemo is a process of terminating the leukemia cells with the assistance of some kinds of drugs. You can have it through the medium of oral tablets or pills. Or, if you are in a critical stage, you will receive it directly in your bloodstream through an intravenous line.
Using the chemotherapy the doctors inject more than one drug to your body. In certain cases, the specialists even deliver chemo drugs to the cerebrospinal fluid. With this type of chemo, they treat the leukemia cancer that occurs in brain cells or spinal cord.
You can do nothing regarding the leukemia causes, but you can fight with it taking the chemotherapy. Some side effects like hair loss, vomiting, losing appetite, etc can come with the therapy. However, the symptoms fade away when you start to recover.
Another treatment that doctors opt after leukemia diagnosis is radiation therapy. In this treatment, the doctors avail of high radiation energy to kill the cancer cells. The cancer specialists especially use it when cancer has spread in the brain cells. Even when, cancer occurs in the spleen areas, radiation therapy treats it.
Similar to chemotherapy, radiation therapy also comes with several side effects. Though the side effects are not permanent, they will recover once the course of medication is completed. The drawbacks of radiation therapy are -nausea, redness on skin, vomiting, tiredness, etc.
The primary task of biological therapy is to find cancer-causing cells and destroy them. Generally, the therapy utilizes the substances of living organisms or their synthetic forms to treat the malignant cells. The several kinds that include in the biological therapy are – cytokines, tumor and various antibodies.
This therapy has its downsides too, which are again temporal. The side effects of this remedy are way less mild. The noticeable side effects of biological therapy include swelling and red rashes on the area of the injection position. Some other mild side effects of these treatments are fevers, tiredness, muscle pain, etc.
Stem cell transplant
In the cell transplant treatment, the high dose drugs of radiation and chemotherapy are combined. Then the drugs are injected into the patients to eliminate the cancer cells. The drug mainly enters the bone marrow and produce new cells.
In the targeted therapy, the leukemia patient receives the drug destroys the working function of the cells instead of choosing to kill them. The positive side of this therapy is: in this treatment, the normal cells get no harm like other types of therapies.
Targeted therapy mainly triggers the growth of the abnormal leukemia cells rather than damaging them. Besides, ceasing the growth of the cancer cells it even puts a stoppage in its spreading. The leukemia patients generally receive the drugs in the injection form and rare cases in oral pills.
The side effects that the patients can get along with the treatment are: swelling in the injection area, bloating, nausea, muscle aches, vomiting, skin rashes, etc.
Treatments that support these therapies
As you receive severe cancer treatments to fight with Leukemia, your body needs some supportive drugs to stay well. The most common disturbance that you may notice after taking the cancer drugs is bleeding and infections in several parts of the body. Hence, the doctors prescribe some additional medicines to treat further complications. The treatment that you may receive along with the major drugs includes: vaccination to fight pneumonia or other influenzas, several antibiotics to prevent the infection, medicines to treat nausea and vomiting, etc.
Different leukemia types require separate treatments. Unless you take the complete drugs, cancer may become threatening. Hence, make sure to consult the doctor if you notice any symptoms regarding the disease.