What you should know about leukemia
() - September 18, 2008 - 12:00am

Leukemia knows no age, gender or race. In fact, according to the United States’ National Cancer Institute (NCI), leukemia affects different people from all parts of the world.

When a person develops leukemia, his body produces a large number of abnormal blood cells. In most cases, people who have leukemia have too many white blood cells in their body, resulting in the poor production of healthy blood cells and inability of the body to fight infection.

The production of abnormal cells also leads to anemia and blood clotting problems as well because the number of platelets and red blood cells in the body is reduced.

Studies show that the leading causes of leukemia are radiation, chemicals, and genetic factors. No foods or beverages have been linked to its likely cause.

Causes of leukemia

Certain types of leukemia can be developed if a person is always exposed to radiation such as ultraviolet (UV) rays and x-rays.

Researchers believe that high doses of radiation damage cells, heightening the risk factors in developing leukemia and other kinds of cancer.

Leukemia can also be hereditary. This means that a person may inherit the disease if his family’s medical background involves past cases of leukemia.

Leukemia is also known as a lifestyle-related disease. According to the article reviewed by Igor Puzanov, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Vanderbilt University (Tennessee), smokers over 60 years old are more likely to develop acute myeloid leukemia.

Meanwhile, some myths about leukemia say that this disease can be acquired through eating certain foods. This claim has never been proven by anyone from the medical field. According to the US NCI, scientists are still studying viruses, bacteria, and substance that directly relate to the development of leukemia.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society also supports NCI’s statement. The world’s largest voluntary health organization says in its website (leukemia-lymphoma.org) that “there is no diet, food or supplement that is known to prevent, cause, treat or cure leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma or myelodysplastic syndromes.”

Although leukemia is not highly curable, it is still treatable using advanced medical procedures such as chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and surgery.

Types of leukemia

Leukemia has two major forms: myelogenous and lymphocytic. Each form can be classified as acute or chronic. When a person is diagnosed with acute leukemia, his disease is progressing rapidly and affecting immature cells. A chronic leukemia, on the other hand, is the slow-developing type.

The four most common types of leukemia are Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is caused by too many immature white blood cells. It occurs in all ages but most common in young children and adults aged 65 and older.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also called acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL), is caused by uncontrolled production and growth of myeloblasts, immature blood cells developed in the bone marrow. People who are diagnosed with AML are usually over 40 years old.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs because of the unrestrained growth of lymphocytic cells in the bone marrow that do not intensely slow down the production of normal blood cells. CLL generally affects adults who are over 55 years old but almost never affects kids.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) involves a genetic abnormality in blood cells known as the Philadelphia chromosome. Adults are mostly affected by CML.

Symptoms

Symptoms of leukemia include infections and fever. People with acute leukemia can easily detect the indications as the leukemia cells travel rapidly through their system. They easily feel weak and exhausted because of insufficient amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the body.

The symptoms of chronic leukemia, meanwhile, may not be detected at the early stage of the disease. But when the leukemia becomes worse, a person may experience loss of appetite, swollen or bleeding gums, and joint pains.

Red spots on the skin, sweating at night, and swollen lymph nodes, liver or spleen are also symptoms of leukemia.

The US NCI says leukemia affects over 20,000 adults and 2,000 children every year in the US alone. In the Philippines, more than 2,000 Filipinos have been diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, according to the Department of Health.

ACUTE BLOOD CELLS CHRONIC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DIVISION OF HEMATOLOGY-ONCOLOGY IGOR PUZANOV IN THE PHILIPPINES LEUKEMIA LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA SOCIETY NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.