Leukemia is also called blood cancer. It is the cancer of the blood or bone marrow. It is characterized by an abnormal multiplication of white blood cells (leukocytes). Leukemia is classified into acute and chronic leukemia.
Acute leukemia happens when immature blood cells multiply rapidly and crowd the bone marrow. This inhibits the bone marrow from producing healthy blood cells. What follows is a spillage into the blood stream and subsequent spread to other vital organs.
Chronic leukemia happens when abnormal mature white blood cells multiply abnormally over a period of time.
The below are some of the common symptoms of leukemia
– Fever; fatigue; chills; paleness; weakness; loss of appetite; weight loss; shortness of breath; sweating; bone and joint pain
– Bleeding in the nose; bleeding during excretion; reduced immunity to infections; bleeding gums
– Red spots under the skin; skin sores; eye sores
– Swollen testicles; swollen gums
– Headaches; vomiting
Chemotherapy – This treatment is given on a cyclic basis. There is a treatment period followed by a recovery period. In chemotherapy, the use of chemical agents destroys malignant blood cells and prevents them from multiplying further.
The only side effect to this is that healthy cells are also destroyed in the process, but with invention of new techniques like ‘cyber-knife’ this problem will soon be eliminated.
Biological therapy – This therapy focuses on fortifying the immune system to better tackle cancerous cells. This treatment is also called immunotherapy, based on the principle of making the body produce more anti-bodies to fight and destroy the leukemia cells.
Radiation – High intensity rays are used in this therapy, to destroy cancerous cells. Radiation is never the primary treatment for cancer. It is more of a temporary arrangement that checks the multiplication of leukemia cells.
Bone Marrow Transplants – This treatment has cured leukemia for thousands of people. In the process of chemotherapy, even normal blood cells are killed in the bone marrow. Hence, this makes it necessary for a new bone marrow to be transplanted, so that the process of chemotherapy can be re-started.