Leukemia

by: Lily Cornish Pd. 9

What is Leukemia

Leukemia affects you white blood cells. When you have leukemia the white blood cells produced in you bone marrow are abnormal and crowd out your normal healthy cells. This prevents you blood from doing it's job correctly. Leukemia is a cancer of your blood so it can affect any part of you body.

There are 4 types of Leukemia; Acute lymphocytic leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and Chronic myeloid leukemia. Chronic Leukemia is slow growing where as in Acute Leukemia the cells are abnormal and the quantity increase quickly.

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Symptoms

Many patients with Chronic Leukemia or slow growing Leukemia won't have an symptoms at all.

Patients with Acute Leukemia or rapid growing Leukemia will have symptoms that include:


  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bleeding and or bruising
  • Mouth ulcer
  • Nosebleed
  • Pallor
  • Red spots on skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Pain in bones or joints

Causes

Scientist are fully sure of how Leukemia develops but it seems to occur from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In general Leukemia seems to come from mutations in the blood cells DNA.
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Prevention and Treatments

At this point there is no known proven way to prevent most types of Leukemia. Some types of Leukemia could be prevented by avoiding excess radiation, exposure to the chemical benzene, and smoking or using tobacco in any way.

There are various ways to treat Leukemia. For slow growing Leukemia the treatment might be as little as monitoring it. For more aggressive types of Leukemia patients might need chemotherapy followed by radiation and a stem-cell transplant.

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Diagnosis

A blood test showing abnormal white cell count will often suggest a diagnosis. To confirm the diagnosis and to determine a specific type a needle biopsy and aspiration of bone marrow from a pelvic bone will be done to test for Leukemic cells, DNA markers, and chromosome changes in bone marrow.

Probability

Gender: Men are more likely to develop CML, CLL and AML than women.

Age: The risk of most leukemias, with the exception of ALL, typically increases with age.

Family history: Most leukemias have no familial link. However, first degree relatives of CLL patients, or having an identical twin who has or had AML or ALL, may put you at an increased risk for developing the disease.

Genetic diseases: Certain genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, may play a role in the development of leukemia.

Smoking: Although smoking may not be a direct cause of leukemia, smoking cigarettes does increase the risk of developing AML.

Exposure to high levels of radiation: Exposure to high-energy radiation (e.g., atomic bomb explosions) and intense exposure to low-energy radiation from electromagnetic fields (e.g., power lines).

Chemical exposure: Long-term exposure to certain pesticides or industrial chemicals like benzene is considered to be a risk for leukemia.


Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States (US) is diagnosed with a blood cancer.

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