According to the National Cancer Institute, 43,000 men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010 and approximately 22,000 people will die from the disease. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow where there is an abnormal increase in white blood cells. This increase results in impaired blood functioning causing enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and/or spleen, and leads to the body's inability to fight against infections.
There are 4 types of Leukemia which include:
1. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
2. Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
3. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
4. Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Child and adult versions of both acute types of leukemia exist, with acute lymphocytic leukemia being the most common in children and chronic lymphocytic leukemia being the most common in adults, and the most common form of leukemia overall. Each main type has subtypes of leukemia.
Although scientists are not certain on the exact causes of leukemia, researchers believe that a number of factors may increase the risk. Many of these risks involve "exposure" to man-made toxic elements such as: radiation, hazardous chemicals (benzene, pesticides, formaldehyde), medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, high voltage power lines, and cigarette smoke. However, these "exposures" do not explain all leukemia cases and the disease can have other genetic and non-genetic causes.
Leukemia symptoms can vary from patient to patient depending on whether it is acute or chronic. Some common and shared symptoms of leukemia include:
>> Fever, chills, night sweats.
>> Fatigue, weakness and tiredness.
>> Frequent and recurrent infections (caused by impaired functioning of white blood cells).
>> Easy bruising and bleeding (caused by a decreased number of platelets which helps the blood to clot).
>> Loss of appetite, and weight loss.
>> Anemia (caused by a low concentration of healthy red blood cells).
>> Tender or swollen lymph nodes (in the neck and armpit area).
>> Tender or swollen liver.
>> Discomfort in the abdomen (causes by a swollen spleen).
>> Breathing difficulties.
Leukemia symptoms can be similar with other medical conditions and only a doctor can establish a correct diagnosis.
The treatment approach for leukemia differs from patient to patient, from one leukemia type to another, and from a leukemia stage or phase to another. Treatment options can include one or more of the following:
* Bone Marrow Transplantation
* Targeted Drug Therapy
* Surgery for spleen removal
Two new treatment approaches that have achieved promising results include: targeted therapy, and immunotherapy (also called biological therapy). Targeted therapy blocks the production of leukemia cells without killing healthy cells with the use of new drugs called Gleevecˇ (Imatinib), Tasignaˇ (Nilotinib), and Sprycelˇ (Dasatinib). Immunotherapy encourages the body's immune system to fight against cancer, or to decrease the side effects caused by the cancer treatment.
Jason L Morrow is the founder and editor of OmniMedicalSearch.com where you can learn more about Leukemia Symptoms.
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