Leukemia is the cancer of blood cells. Smoking is one of the risk factors. Find out other risk factors in this article…
The bone marrow is responsible for the production of white blood cells. In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow produces many abnormal white blood cells also known as leukemia cells. These cells multiply rapidly when compared to the normal blood cells. They crowd out the normal blood cells, leading to anaemia, bleeding etc; they can also affect the lymph nodes and other organs.
It is of four types:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Acute myelogenous leukemia
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
Are you at risk?
The risk factors are as follows:
- History of cancer treatment: A person who has received certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is more likely to develop this disease
- Genetic disorders: People having certain genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome are more likely to develop this disease
- Exposure to certain chemicals: People who are under constant exposure to chemicals like benzene carry an increased risk of developing this disease
- Smoking: A person who smokes is more likely to develop acute myelogenous leukemia
- Family history of leukemia: If your family members have leukemia, you are at an increased risk of developing this disease
How is it diagnosed?
The doctor will:
- Get to know your medical history
- Examine your neck, underarm and groin for enlarged lymph nodes
- Take a look at liver and spleen
- Carry out complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry
- Conduct a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
To find out the type of leukemia the doctor can carry the following tests:
- Karyotyping, a test wherein chromosomes taken from a sample of blood or bone marrow are examined to detect changes
- Immunophenotyping, a test in which cancer cells are compared with normal blood cells
- Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR), a test conducted to look into genes that are “turned on”
The doctor can perform the below tests too:
- Chest X-Rays, to find out if the disease is a caused by lung problems
- CT scan of the head, chest or belly to know if the disease has spread there
- Lumbar puncture, to find out if leukemia cells have entered the cerebrospinal fluid
- MRI of the brain to know if the disease has spread to the brain
- Biopsy of lymph nodes or other tissues to find the presence of leukemia cells
Lumps in the neck, armpit or groin, swelling or pain in the left side of the abdomen are some of the symptoms of leukemia. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a hematologist online at eVaidya now!
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