Overview of Leukemia
Leukemia, commonly known as blood cancer, is exactly that: cancer of the blood cells. Specifically, Leukemia results in a high number of cancerous white blood cells getting produced in the body. The disease usually starts in the bone marrow and other parts of the body where blood cells are produced. These cancerous WBCs then start attacking the rest of the blood cells and eventually various systems start to fail, leading to death.
Leukemia is broadly classified into two types: acute, which is fast onset blood cancer, and chronic, which develops over time. Both of these are further divided into lymphocytic and myeloid classifications, bringing the total types of Leukemia down to four.
Causes and Risk Factors of Leukemia
Even with years of research, the exact cause of Leukemia is unknown. Some studies attribute blood cancer to genetics; others to environmental factors. Evidence exists to support both theories, but it cannot be said with certainty which one of, for example, two patents with same physical condition will develop Leukemia. There are, however, certain factors that increase the possibility of contracting blood cancer, including radiation exposure, coming into contact with certain toxic chemicals like benzene, chemotherapy etc. Finally, certain hereditary syndromes like down and HTLV also stand a higher risk of developing leukemia.
Signs and Symptoms of Leukemia
Because Leukemia is a disease of the blood and blood travels throughout the body, the symptoms are broad and varying. It’s also possible that it isn’t specifically symptoms of leukemia that the patient is exhibiting but rather the symptoms for the disease that has developed as a result of the cancer, since this disease seriously compromises the body’s ability to fight of infections. Common complaints include fatigue, chilly fever, loss of appetite, profuse bleeding from even minor cuts, bleeding/swelling in gums etc. Under acute leukemia, the patient might also experience problems with their central nervous system.