Leukemia

Leukemia:  a progressive, malignant disease of the blood forming organs, marked by distorted proliferation (the reproduction or multiplication of similar forms, especially cells) and development of leukocytes (WBC) and their precursors (something that precedes) in the blood and bone marrow.  It's most common forms include acute lymphoblastic (lymphocytic) leukemia (ALL), involving abnormal growth of lymphocyte precursors (lymphoblasts); acute myeloblastic (myelogenous) leukemia (AML), involving rapid accumulation of myeloid precursors (myeloblasts); and acute monoblastic (monocytic) leukemia, or Schilling's type, involving marked increases in monocyte precursors (monoblasts).

Acute leukemia is most common in children, and ranks 20th as a cause of cancer related deaths among people of all age groups. Untreated, acute leukemia invariably leads to death, usually the result of complications that result from leukemic cell infiltration of bone marrow or vital organs.  With treatment, prognosis varies. (Studies shows)-In acute lymphoblastic leukemia, treatment induces remissions in 90% of children (average survival time: 5 years) and in 65% of adults (average survival time: 1 to 2 years).  Children between ages 2 and 8 have the best survival rate - about 50% with intensive therapy.  In acute myeloblastic leukemia, the average survival time is only 1 year after diagnosis, even with aggressive treatment.  In acute monoblastic leukemia, treatment induces remissions lasting 2 to 10 months in 40% of children.  Adults survive only about 1 year after diagnosis, even with treatment.

Causes:  The exact cause of acute leukemia is unknown.  Risk factors are thought to include some combination of viruses,, genetic and immunologic factors, and exposure to radiation and certain chemicals.

Symptoms:

Sudden onset of high fever/low grade fever
Abnormal bleeding (example: nosebleeds, gingival bleeding, purpura, ecchymoses, petechiae)
Bruising (even if it's a minor trauma)
Prolonged menses (females)
Weakness
Pallor
Dyspnea
Fatigue
malaise
Tachycardia
Palpitations
Abdominal or bone pain.
Headache

Treatment:

Systemic chemotherapy 
Chemotherapy varies with the specific disorder:

Bone marrow transplant is now possible in some cases.

Antibiotic therapy, antifungal, and antiviral drugs may be ordered.

Transfusions 


Chronic Myelogenous Myelocytic) Leukemia (CML):  Known also as: Granulocytic Leukemia, produces abnormal overgrowth of granulocyte precursors (myeloblasts, promyelocytes, metamyelocytes, and myelocytes) in bone marrow, peripheral blood, and body tissues. 

CML progresses in three distinct phases:  the insidious chronic phase, with anemia and bleeding abnormalities; an accelerated phase; and, eventually, the acute phase (blastic crisis), in with myeloblasts, the most primitive granulocyte precursors, proliferate rapidly.  This disease is invariably fatal. Studies shows average survival time is 3 to 4 years after onset of the chronic phase and 3 to 6 months after onset of the acute phase.

Causes:  Just about 90% of patients with CML have the Philadelphia (Ph1) chromosome.  Radiation and carcinogenic chemicals may induces this chromosome abnormality.  Myeloproliferative diseases also seem to increase the incidence of this disease.  Also believe to be a cause is that of an unidentified virus.

Symptoms:

Anemia
Fatigue
Weakness
Decreased exercise tolerance
Pallor
Dyspnea
Tachycardia
Headache
Thrombocytopenia  (decrease in number of platelets in circulating blood - resulting in bleeding and clotting disorders, such as retinal hemorrhage, ecchymosis, hematuria, melena, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and easy bruising).
Hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the liver and spleen), with abdominal discomfort and pain.
Sternal and rib tenderness
Low grade fever
Weight loss
Anorexia
Prolonged infection and ankle edema

Treatment:

Chemotherapy

Radiation therapy

Splenectomy (controversial)

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