Sometimes, we hear of certain diseases or health conditions frequently but are never aware of their background; like it is common to find people who do not know much about Leukemia. But I don’t want to underrate you. How much do you know about Leukemia? Did you know that it is a type of cancer? Well, it is time you stopped listening to misconceptions and any other misleading information about Leukemia. Our aim is to make you aware of what Leukemia is all about by giving you the facts you need you need to know.
With the availability of vast information from the World Wide Web, we can get a lot of information about a certain disease in a matter of seconds. The information can be so much that readers can get confused between what’s real and what’s not. We are not here to confuse you. Instead we are here to empower you by educating you. Here are some important facts to discuss about Leukemia.
Fact Number 1: Leukemia is a cancer
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the country and the world at large. We are familiar with cancer of the skin, stomach, prostate and breast, but some of us do not know that Leukemia is also a form of cancer and that it infects the blood, the white blood cells to be specific. Now you have known if you did not.
Also unknown to most of the populace, our blood is a tissue. It is a specialized group of cells that make up a loose connective tissue. The cancer occurs when the leukocytes do not completely mature and rapidly duplicate out of control in the blood. Therefore, there is abnormal duplication or progressive increase in the number of immature leukocytes (white blood cells) in the blood. The problem with these cells is that they do not die easily. The normal lifespan for white blood cells ranges between 13 to 20 days, after which they die and other new ones produced by the body in the bone marrow, the body part responsible for this function. Since they do not die easily, they tend to occupy the space that is supposed to be occupied by the newly formed or produced cells. The body will then react by the infected person suffering from such becoming ill. As a result of these cells occupying much space and the newly formed white blood cells lacking space in the blood, the body’s immune system is weakened. This may cause the patient to be vulnerable to other infections.
Since Leukemia is cancer, we can conclude that it can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Fact Number 2: Bruising is common and sometimes expected
A bruise is a blue, brown or purple mark that appears on the skin after somebody has fallen, been hit or otherwise. But how does bruising occur as a result of Leukemia? You will find out as you continue reading this post. The uncontrolled multiplication of the cells in a person’s (the one affected by this condition) blood causes bruising or hematoma, and bleeding. As the cells exceed the capacity of the lumen of the blood vessels (these would be your arteries, veins and capillaries), they will have the tendency to burst. We then see spots of black and blue colors in the affected person’s skin as a result of this bursting. Henceforth, do not be surprised if a layman considers bruising as an indicator of Leukemia. He probably saw it in a television show or movies and yes, there is a pathophysiology behind that.
Fact Number 3: Exposure to chemicals and radiations can lead to Leukemia
There are many factors associated with this uncontrolled growth in number of blood cells. It is well known that exposure to chemicals and radiations is associated with the development of this condition. The radiation and chemicals directly affect the growth of cells produced by the bone marrow.
There are studies that statistically show increased number of patients with Leukemia who live in farms wherein high amounts of pesticides are sprayed. On top of that, incidences are also remarkably high to people working in areas that frequently use radiations and yes, you can include hospitals in the list since people there are working as computed tomography scan technologies and x-ray technicians. Several sources would even tell us that symptoms of Leukemia may not manifest in health care providers, but their children and even grandchildren can show signs and symptoms. This information still needs more scientific evidences nonetheless. Other chemicals and radiations associated with Leukemia that require further exploration would be:
(1) living near cellular sites, power grids, or radio and television satellites,
(2) the dyes we use to add color to our hair,
(3) skin and hair bleaches,
(4) laundry products and
(5) cigarette smoke.
Fact Number 4: Children can have Leukemia
There are different kinds of Leukemia. It is a common knowledge that cancers are developed from exposure to teratogens (agents or factors that cause malformation of an embryo(s)). With this in mind, we do not normally expect malignancy in children. Malignancy refers to the presence of malignant tumor, meaning a tumor that cannot be controlled and can cause death. However, the case is different if the child was predisposed while he or she was still a foetus – such as when the mother is working in a factory that uses benzene (like shoe and cleaning product manufacturers) during her pregnancy.
Two types of Leukemia are Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Acute Lymphatic Leukemia is the common form of Leukemia that affects children; on the other hand Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is mostly reported by and in adults. In defining an illness, acute means that the illness is quickly or quickly becomes severe and dangerous, and that is the case with ALL and AML.
Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL) can manifest and be diagnosed in children anytime but a great number of cases were noted in the first two years of age and during their teenage years. Just like Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, JMML (Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia), which is another type of Leukemia is also common in children aged 0-2 years. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is a type of cancer characterized by the making of too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells) by the bone marrow.
Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia is however not very common as its case account for less than one percent of leukemia cases in children. It is caused by the occurrence of too many white white blood cells, two types going by the names myelocytes and monocytes. They can best be treated through a blood or a bone marrow transplant. It is characterized by skin rash, pain below the ribs, easy bruising or bleeding, weight loss and a feeling of being very tired.