Case Study

Emily Clementi, Lia Mascia, Alivia Lee, Jacqueline Vanek

Symptoms of Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

  • pain in bones or joints
  • rashes or red spots
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • easy bruising
  • headache

Causes

The exact cause of leukemia is unknown. It seems to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors

-leukemia is thought to occur when some blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA
-certain abnormalities cause the cell to grow and divide more rapidly and to continue living when normal cells would die
-these abnormal cells can crowd out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to fewer healthy blood cells and causing the signs and symptoms of leukemia

Factors That May Increase Risks of Developing Leukemia:

  • previous cancer treatments
  • genetic disorders
  • certain blood disorders
  • exposure of high levels of radiation
  • exposure of certain chemicals
  • smoking
  • family history of leukemia

Treatments

  • chemotherapy
  • biological therapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiation therapy
  • stem cell transplant

Leukemia Case Study

Tommy Smith, a 4 year old male presents to his pediatrician with a low grade fever reading 99-100 for about a week. He is experiencing paleness, rash, bruising and discomfort. His doctor decides it is a sinus infection and sends him off with antibiotics. 5 days later, he returns to the doctor with no improvement. The pediatrician reexamines Tommy and notices that his lymph notes are enlarged. She decided to get a CBC (complete blood count). She realizes that Tommy's white blood count is severely low so she refers him to the oncology department at Vanderbilt. Once settled in the hospital, the pediatric oncologist sees Tommy. She explains that even though Tommy's CBC is very low which normally means Leukemia, in order to know for sure, they have to take a BMA (bone marrow aspiration test). In this test, there must be >25% blasts to confirm Leukemia. Tommy's count shows 95% blasts and no blasts in the CNS. He is diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Tommy meets with a series of doctors and is told that it will run its course for 3 years. 30 days after induction treatment, Tommy is in remission, which is <5% blasts in the BMA. However, he is not finished. He will receive frequent spinal taps and chemotherapy once a week for 6-8 months. Then, he will enter maintenance therapy, which will be receiving chemo every 4 weeks for about 3 years. Tommy is said to live a normal life someday because they caught it early enough.