What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood that creates too many white blood cells from bone marrow and lymph system organs. It is usually a slow progressing form of cancer; however, in some people, it may become more severe and progress faster than expected. It is a disease that can affect adults, but is more commonly seen in children. It is not contagious and cannot be contracted from personal contact.
What Causes Leukemia?
Currently, doctors do not know much about what causes leukemia. It is believed that there is a DNA mutation in the cells that are responsible for producing white blood cells. This may be why the blood cells are created white blood cells that are not able to fight off infections properly. Additionally, the white blood cells associated with leukemia only continue to multiply, instead of dying. Sometimes this can push healthy blood cells out of bone marrow, which can cause complications for the creation of other blood cells and various organs in the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Leukemia?
At the beginning of the disease, you may not notice any of the symptoms. Symptoms are not common with this particular type of cancer, which is attributed to its slow growth. There are some symptoms that may be considered to be common with this type of cancer, although the symptoms can vary for each person. Some of the symptoms may be:
• night sweats
• enlarged liver
• frequent infections
• swollen lymph nodes
• bleeding or bruising easily
• loss of appetite
• enlarged spleen
• continuous weakness or tiredness
Many of these symptoms may also be similar to symptoms that are common with blood disorders or other conditions. It is necessary to get an exam from your doctor to determine what the true cause of the symptoms may be.
How is Leukemia Treated?
In some cases, your doctor may choose not to treat the disease immediately. Since it is considered to be a slow progressing form of cancer, there are many doctors that prefer not to treat it until the disease has started growing more quickly or is starting to cause bothersome symptoms. When symptoms have started to occur, a treatment plan may be created. Your doctor may recommend treatment with medications such as Campath, Rituxan, or Arzerra. Some of the treatments associated with this type of cancer may include:
• radiation therapy
• bone marrow or stem cell transplants