Leukaemia is blood cancer in simple terms. The blood is made up of red blood corpuscles (RBC) and white blood corpuscles (WBC) and blood platelets. The function of RBCs is to carry Oxygen; WBCs fight diseases and are known as the ‘soldiers,’ while the platelets help in clotting. The blood is formed in the bone marrow which is the soft tissue found inside the bones.
Excess production of WBCs results in the condition of Leukaemia where the unwanted cells start occupying more space and disturb the functions of the healthy cells. This condition is known as Leukaemia.
The bone marrow inside the bone is the production of RBCs, WBCs and Platelets. Normally the old cells die out and are replaced by new ones. The dead or unwanted cells are removed out of the system. But sometimes the bad cells drive the good cells out of circulation due to some ‘problem’. Then the functioning of the normal healthy cells is affected and infections set in. The bad cells start occupying more space and turn into mass or swellings or nodes in the armpits, neck and groin.
The signs and symptoms of Leukaemia include:
Anaemia or loss of blood, infections, nausea, fevers ,chills, night sweating, tiredness, loss of appetite and, weight loss and headache which is a symptom that the nervous system has been affected, difficulty in breathing and pale skin colour.
The presence of above symptoms will help in diagnosing the condition of Leukaemia. In addition the doctor may advise certain blood tests and biopsies to rule out any other underlying condition which may have similar symptoms.
An Oncologist is the expert who treats cancers.
There is no permanent cure, but it can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. Treatment of symptoms depends upon the type and the stage of Leukaemia. Whether it is Acute [short term] or Chronic [long term].
Modern science has evolved many therapies for treatment of cancer and Leukaemia. There is stem cell transplant and bone marrow transplant where the patient recovers well. If there is no remission for 5 years after treatment then the medication decreases and the patient leads a good life.
Unfortunately Leukaemia cannot be prevented. In adults with no family history of cancers and Leukaemia it can be caused by lifestyle or environmental factors, but in children the cause may be unknown or may be a case of single or multiple genes which may be inherited.
Research and Science have made it easy to treat certain conditions which were earlier considered fatal. The key is the medical and family history, as the major risk factors. An early diagnosis may help in effective treatment.