Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and the blood cells. There are many forms of this disease; some of them affect the adults while others are common in children. Our body produces three kinds of blood cells, the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and platelets. However, when a person has leukemia, abnormal blood cells are produced and it especially affects the white blood cells. As leukemia develops over time, a human body does not have enough white blood cells to fight off infection, no red blood cells to carry oxygen and also no platelets to help blood to clot.
Leukemia is common in children and accounts for 30% of childhood cancers. Cancer is something that continues affecting lives of people unabashedly, hence it is important that we understand blood cancer so that we can improve the chances of survival.
Risk factors of leukemia
There is no definitive cause known for leukemia, but a number of factors have been identified by clinical studies that may increase the risk of the disease
- Family history
- Down syndrome
- Past cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation
- Blood disorders like myelodysplastic syndrome which is also known as pre-leukemia
- Exposure to high levels of radiation
Symptoms of leukemia
The best way to battle any form of cancer is to identify their symptoms in the initial stages and visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The same goes for blood cancer too.
There is usually no such tests like mammograms or colonoscopy that can detect blood cancer in its early stages. Hence it is only the symptoms that people have to rely on and keep observing.
Here are some signs and symptoms that can help you identify that something might be problematic with your health
- Too much sweating, especially night sweats
- Persistent weakness and fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen, painless lymph nodes I the neck and armpits
- Pain in bone and tenderness
- Enlargement of liver or spleen
- Profuse bleeding from a minor cut
- Bruising easily
- Frequent infections
- Fever with chills
- Red spots on the skin
What are the survival rate and cure for blood cancer?
When a person is first diagnosed with cancer, they want to know about their prognosis. Doctors are not astrologers hence it is difficult for them to predict a survival rate. But from previous experiences and case studies, your doctor can definitely give you an estimated time. But again the survival rate also depends on what stage cancer has been diagnosed, what treatment has been administered and how the individual responds to a particular treatment.
While many people also ask if there is a cure for blood cancer! Well, since blood cancer develops in the bone marrow, for many patients the only form of treatment and cure may be stem cell transplant. But most of the patients needing a stem cell transplant do not have a matching donor.
However, once a person gets diagnosed with blood cancer, regular clinical monitoring and blood tests are required to ensure that cancer has not recurred.