Acute leukemia – rapidly growing form of cancer in which the diseased white blood cells accumulate in the blood and bone marrow. There are several types of acute leukemia. The so-called acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs more frequently in children. Another type of acute granulocytic leukemia is more common in adults.
When lymphoblastic leukemia diseased white blood cells are formed in the lymph nodes or bone marrow. Granulocytic leukemia affects white blood cells, which are produced in the bone marrow.
The causes of leukemia are unknown to date. It is believed that certain factors increase the risk of leukemia: certain genetic abnormalities, diseases of the immune system, exposure to high doses of radiation and chemicals that suppress the bone marrow hemopoiesis.
Symptoms of acute leukemia
High body temperature, weakness and other flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, spleen and liver, pain in the bones.
Red or purple spots on the skin caused by bleeding.
Frequent infections, and progressive weakness.
Acute leukemia often occurs suddenly, especially in children. At first it seems that this is a cold or the flu, but the symptoms are progressing rapidly, the condition worsens and there are pathological changes in the blood.
Acute leukemia is a dangerous disease. If untreated, the disease rapidly progresses to death.
Specific preventive measures do not.
What you can do?
For suspected leukemia should consult your doctor as soon as possible. Best of all, that the treatment carried out specialist oncologist with experience in treatment of the type of leukemia.
The duration of treatment of leukemia is usually 2 years. During this time, especially the need to maintain their vitality, as anti-cancer therapy and radiation therapy are accompanied by nausea.
The earlier treatment is started, the better the chance of recovery.
What can a doctor?
First, the physician must determine whether the patient’s symptoms of leukemia, or they are caused by anemia, or infection. If the blood and bone marrow cells are found, characteristic of leukemia, further studies are conducted to determine the type of leukemia and outline a treatment program.
The diagnosis of acute leukemia is assumed, when carrying out a number of blood tests revealed abnormally elevated white blood cell count. To confirm the diagnosis of bone marrow biopsy.
For the treatment of acute leukemia performed chemotherapy using combinations of anticancer drugs. The goal of treatment is to destroy tumor cells. The dose of these drugs must be carefully matched to the tumor cells were destroyed, and healthy cells are not affected. The first phase of treatment – induction therapy. During this period, the patient receives the most intensive treatment for 4-6 weeks. This phase of treatment usually causes remission of the disease, which, however, may be only temporary, if not to continue therapy.
The second phase of treatment fixing the therapy, which aims to destroy abnormal cells present at this point in the body. Drugs that a patient receives in this phase are needed to overcome potential resistance to therapy. Maintenance chemotherapy usually lasts for 2-3 years.
Most patients remain in hospital during the first phase of treatment, because there is a high risk of infection and the development of severe bleeding. Because these drugs suppress the production of white blood cells and may reduce health may require frequent blood transfusions.
An important part of treatment may be a bone marrow transplant. This is a complex procedure in which all blood cells produced by irradiation are destroyed first, and then new cells from a matched donor are introduced into the bone marrow with healthy cells. To prevent the invasion of tumor cells from bone marrow might radiotherapy.
To date, more number of cases of acute leukemia therapy lends itself well, the prognosis is greatly improved, especially in children, an increasing number of patients cured. In 90% of cases and achieved a remission, half of patients survive for 5 years or more.