Chronic leukemia – a form of blood cancer that develops slowly, sometimes for 15-20 years and occurs more frequently in elderly patients. The disease is characterized by the accumulation of leukocytes in the blood and bone marrow.
Leukemia affects the lymphocytes and granulocytes, which are white blood cells and determine the body’s ability to resist pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi. If the leukemia cells are affected, the disease is called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), if the granulocytes – chronic myeloid leukemia. Granulocytes liberate the body from harmful bacteria and other foreign particles, absorbing and destroying them, while the lymphocytes produce antibodies when the body is subjected to the invasion of microorganisms and effects of foreign substances. Antibodies interact with infectious agents so that they completely destroy them and eliminate from the body.
In chronic leukemia, immature white blood cells are produced by abnormal, impaired production of lymphocytes and granulocytes, which makes it difficult to fight off infections. The disease affects other blood cells – red blood cells that carry oxygen transport, and platelets, which are an instrument of blood clotting. Diagnosis is based on blood and bone marrow. Further examination is carried out to determine the type of chronic leukemia.
In some cases, chronic leukemia amenable to conservative therapy for many years.
Patients often need medical care because of increased weakness, or loss of body weight, or disease can be detected unexpectedly during routine medical examinations.
If no symptoms and signs of the disease in the medical examination is not enough, the treatment of chronic leukemia is not carried out. While many people with this disease live a normal life for several years, regular checkups are necessary to ensure that the disease does not progress.
Anti-tumor chemotherapy aimed at destroying cancer cells without affecting, to the extent possible, healthy cells. Effective as radiation therapy. A few weeks later the disease may go into remission phase, during which symptoms disappear, and the patient can lead a normal life.
For patients with chronic myeloid leukemia can be effective in bone marrow transplantation. In carrying out this procedure, all bone marrow cells are destroyed by radiation therapy, and then restored by transplantation of specially selected donor.
Because the causes of the disease is unknown, specific preventive measures do not exist.
The causes of leukemia are unknown, but the risk of its development, seems to increase when exposed to certain chemicals, radiation, certain drugs, certain viruses. Chromosomal and genetic disorders may also be responsible for the cellular disturbances that lead to leukemia.
Chronic leukemia can occur for several years without obvious symptoms. In some cases the general feeling of pain, weakness, and sometimes an increase in the lymph nodes in the neck or mediastinum, an enlarged spleen.
With the development of disease manifestations observed increased weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss, feeling of fullness and heaviness in the left upper quadrant, abnormal sweating or night sweats, anemia, constant fever, bleeding.
In the transition to the active phase of the untreated disease progresses rapidly and often results in lethal.
What you can do?
There is no independent method of treatment of leukemia. However, in the absence of clinical symptoms, you can continue to live a normal life. It is necessary to take restorative measures to maintain the body’s defenses, to ensure good nutrition. Equally important have an optimistic outlook on life and positive emotions. Many patients with chronic leukemia in the absence of symptoms lead a normal life for many years without losing the ability to work.
If you have symptoms that resemble leukemia, you should immediately seek medical attention. If the diagnosis is made, it should be regularly examined to determine the progression of the disease and began treatment at the earliest possible stage.
What can a doctor?
For the diagnosis of the doctor conducting various studies, bone marrow biopsy. General medical examination is conducted to identify the symptoms of the disease in any way, such as enlargement of the spleen.
Once diagnosed, the doctor makes a decision on the appointment of the treatment, taking into account the patient’s age, medical history, overall health, stage of disease. At present, anticancer drugs used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia can achieve remission in a significant number of patients.