Leukemia: 10 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

A simple mistake in your DNA inside a blood cell may lead you to leukemia! 

What is leukemia

What are its types and possible causes? 

When do you become more likely to get it? 

What are the symptoms of leukemia, if any?!

Leukemia: 10 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

According to the World Health Organization, cancer claimed the lives of nearly 10 million people in 2020, that is, one in every 6 deaths is due to cancer.

Blood represents about 8% of the human body's weight, and its function is to supply all organs with oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and antibodies. Blood is composed of an equal mixture of:

Red blood cells: carry oxygen to the lungs and tissues.

White blood cells: fight infection.

Platelets: cells that form blood clots and prevent blood loss from wounds.

blood cancer

Blood cancers, or hematologic cancers, begin in blood-forming tissues, such as bone marrow or immune system cells.

According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), leukemia occurs when abnormal blood cells grow out of control, which are cancerous cells that disrupt the functions of normal blood cells, which fight infection and inflammation and produce new blood cells.

Men are more likely to develop leukemia than women. Leukemia accounts for about 25% of cancers in children. This is according to data from Yale University School of Medicine.

types of leukemia

There are three types of leukemia, each with its own nature, symptoms, and treatment.

1. Leukemia

Leukemia affects the white blood cells and bone marrow. It prevents the bone marrow from forming red blood cells and platelets, due to the production of too many abnormal white blood cells.

There are 4 types of leukemia, and this is due to the type of white blood cells affected. There are many types of white blood cells, and these include myeloid and lymphocytes:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

2. Lymphoma

Lymphoma affects the lymphatic system, especially those small bean-shaped structures in the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes, which carry out the task of filtering harmful substances, which leads to the glands swelling.

 There are two types of lymphoma:

Hodgkin's lymphoma: Known to doctors, it begins in B cells that make antibodies to fight germs. 

People with Hodgkin lymphoma develop enlarged lymphocytes called Reed-Sternberg cells in the Reed-Sternberg cell lymph nodes.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: All other types are called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These types of lymphoma arise either in B cells or in T cells and are more common than Hodgkin lymphomas.

3. Multiple myeloma

Myeloma, or myeloma, is a type of blood cancer that originates in plasma cells (white blood cells that are made in the bone marrow). 

To treat this type of leukemia, abnormal plasma cells are made in the bone marrow, called myeloma cells.

Causes of leukemia

In all cases and types of leukemia, the cause is a mutation in the DNA of the blood cells - where the DNA tells blood cells when to grow when to divide or multiply, and when to die - in addition to other causes that are determined by the type of leukemia.

These mutations in the DNA of blood cells are caused by factors related to a person's lifestyle that cannot be controlled, but they are certainly not genetic.

Causes of leukemia, or risk factors that contribute to leukemia, include:

Excessive radiation exposure.

A history of other blood cancers.

Previous cancer treatment.

Exposure to industrial chemicals.

advanced age

Being male you are more prone to leukemia.

Symptoms of leukemia

Symptoms of leukemia vary depending on the type of cancer, and in some cases, a patient may not have symptoms of leukemia until they slowly develop over years. Here are some possible symptoms of leukemia:

1. Unexplained headache and fever (37.5°C or higher).

2. Constant fatigue.

3. Weakness.

4. Excessive night sweats.

5. Shortness of breath.

6. Loss of appetite, nausea, and unexplained weight loss.

7. Rashes and pallor (the skin under the lower eyelid is white, not pink).

8. Pain in the bones, joints, or abdomen.

9. Frequent infection.

10. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin.

leukemia diagnosis

To diagnose whether your condition is leukemia or another condition, your doctor will perform:

A physical exam to check your general health.

Review your health history.

Examine your body and lymph nodes, to look for any signs of infection or bruising.

Later, your doctor will resort to other tests, and methods of diagnosing leukemia vary according to its type:

1. Diagnosis of leukemia

A complete blood count (CBC), a blood test that assesses health and detects a wide range of disorders, including abnormal levels of white blood cells compared to red blood cells and platelets.

2. Diagnosis of lymphoma

To detect this type of blood cancer

Your doctor will need to:

Biopsy of a lymph node and taking a sample or a whole lymph node for microscopic examination.

X-ray examination.

Computed tomography.

3. Diagnosis of multiple myeloma

In this case, your doctor will order:

Complete blood count (CBC) test.

Other blood or urine tests.

Bone marrow biopsy.

Magnetic resonance imaging.

Positron emission tomography.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan to confirm the presence and extent of the myeloma.

bitter treatment  leukemia

Leukemia treatment depends on several factors, including:

type of leukemia;

The patient's age.

patient health.

The side effects of each treatment.

The following are the approved methods for treating leukemia:

Chemotherapy: The most common one, it kills cancer cells to slow down or eliminate the progression of the disease, by introducing anti-cancer drugs into the body by injection or by pills.

Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams to target cancer cells and damage their DNA so that they cannot multiply.

Targeted therapies: These are treatments with drugs that target malignant blood cells without harming normal cells.

1. Autologous stem cell transplant: or autologous bone marrow transplant, during which doctors collect healthy blood stem cells from your body and place them in the place of diseased or damaged bone marrow.

2. Allogenic stem cell transplantation: or allogeneic bone marrow transplant, which is the transplantation of healthy blood stem cells from a donor to replace the bone marrow that does not produce healthy blood cells in the patient. This procedure is effective, but it is dangerous.

Cancer surgery: Surgery involves removing affected lymph nodes to treat lymphoma.

Immunotherapy: What is called biological therapy, activates the body's immune system to kill cancer cells.

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