Symtoms Of Leukemia

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Introduction

Leukemia is an overarching term used to describe several forms of cancer of the blood or bone marrow. It\'s characterized by the rapid and uncontrolled growth of blood cells. Leukemia can be caused by a variety of factors, including ionizing radiation, infection by certain viruses (such as human T-lymphotropic virus) and exposure to benzene. Like other cancers, these factors cause mutations in DNA that activate oncogenes or deactivate tumor suppressors, which themselves allow for the unchecked growth of cells. These cells, usually white blood cells, don\'t work properly, and are an overwhelming presence in the bloodstream. As a result, functioning red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are not created in the correct amounts, and many detrimental symptoms can result.

Symptoms

Pain: Bone, joint, and abdominal pains are frequently associated with leukemia. These can be caused by various factors including swelling of the spleen and lymph nodes. Autoimmune responses can result in swelling of the joints, which results in pain.

Fatigue: The excessive divisions of abnormal white blood cells can drain the body of energy. With leukemia, anemia can set in, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the muscles. This lack of oxygen can result in severe lethargy and fatigue.

Excessive bleeding: Low platelet counts result in a loss of the body\'s ability to clot wounds. The effect is easy bruising, slow healing times for cuts and scrapes, and sometimes pinprick bleeding.

Frequent infections: Despite the overwhelming number of white blood cells in the blood stream of a person with leukemia, very few of these cells function properly. This means that the immune system will not be working as well as it needs to be. Common viral, bacterial, and fungal infections may increase in frequency. Additionally, many diseases that only appear in patients with immune-deficiencies – such as certain types of pneumonia – may become more frequent.

Anemia: The red blood cell counts of a patient with leukemia will most likely drop. This will result in anemia, which can cause weakness, fatigue, and even poor concentration. Shortness of breath and increased heart rates are also symptoms.

Nausea and loss of appetite: Leukemia will often result the swelling of certain internal organs, like the liver and the spleen. These organs can press on the stomach, causing a feeling of satiety or nausea, even when the patient hasn\'t eaten. Nausea can often made much worse by the side effects of many of the drugs administered. Hospital staff frequently make up for the lack of appetite by administering vitamins and minerals to the body intravenously.

Neurological symptoms: If the cancer cells invade the central nervous system, some neurological effects can occur, most notably severe headaches.

Leukemia can be a difficult disease to live with, but many forms of the disease are treatable. Sometimes, little is needed – only a few medications to be taken for a few months – and the disease will enter remission for many years. Other times, however, much more aggressive treatments are required. Patients often have to undergo many rounds of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplants.

Which treatment is provided depends on whether the disease is acute or chronic, whether it is occurring in white blood cells or the bone marrow, and how progressed it is. Additionally, leukemia in children tends to be much different than leukemia in adults, and generally requires different types and levels of treatment, in part because the child is still developing. Depending on the severity and scope of the symptoms, various methods of treatment need to be combined, to help combat the disease and help alleviate the worst effects that it can have on the body.

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