Leukemia is a blood cancer that is characterized by uncontrolled production of white blood cells in the body. The white blood cells or leukocytes are the first line of defense against bacterial, fungal and viral infections in the body.
White blood cells, red blood cells and the blood platelets are produced from the cells of the bone marrow. Defect in the bone marrow cells responsible for making the white blood cells causes leukemia. The white blood cells outgrow in number and this disturbs the balance of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms associated with leukemia are as follows:
- Weakness and tiredness that does not fade away even after rest
- Uncontrolled weight loss
- Bone pain
- Loss of appetite
- Bone tenderness
- Frequent infections
- Fever and chills
- Frequent bleeding and bruising
- Enlarged liver and spleen
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Tiny red spots on the skin (petichae)
The following laboratory tests are useful to detect leukemia:
Complete blood cell (CBC) count
The test is performed to determine the red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet count in the blood. The blood cells are viewed under the microscope to monitor the changes in the morphology and shape of the blood cells.
Bone marrow aspiration test
A sample of cells from the bone marrow is collected from the pelvic bone or sternum using a bone marrow aspiration needle. The stem cells collected are then viewed under the microscope to determine the cell morphology of the tumor cells. This test is essential to confirm the presence of leukemia.
Biopsy of liver and spleen
The biopsy test is performed to determine the spread of cancer to the liver and spleen.
Factors affecting staging and prognosis of cancer
Staging of cancer helps in understanding the severity of cancer. The stage of leukemia is determined based on the following factors:
- White blood cell and platelet count
- History of prior blood disorders
- Chromosomal mutations (assessed by genetic tests)
- Bone damage
- Enlarged liver or spleen
On confirming the presence of blood cancer, the stem cells are viewed under the microscope to determine the size, shape and the staging of leukemia.
Management of Leukemia
Your treatment plan depends on the type and severity of the disease. Individuals who are the carriers of leukemia gene would have mild or no symptoms. The main treatments for leukemia include:
Chemotherapeutic drugs are used to kill and prevent the growth of cancer cells.
High-intensity radiations are used to kill the cancer cells either in a single part or the entire body. This therapy is usually recommended in combination with chemotherapy for better treatment.
Bone marrow transplantation
Bone marrow transplantation involves stem cell transplantation from a donor (allologous transplantation) or from the same individual (autologous transplantation). The stem cells transplanted helps in the regeneration of new blood cells in the body.
- Engage in social activities and physical activity to control emotional and mental stress caused due to prolonged duration of treatment and hospital stay.
- Take healthy and nutritious meals to manage the symptoms of weight loss and loss of appetite caused due to leukemia and treatment procedures.
- It is advised to take pneumococcal and hepatitis vaccines to safeguard yourself from infections. Individuals who have undergone bone marrow transplantation are highly prone to infections.
Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?
We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.
For appointments, please call 4444 2424.
- Leukemia – Treatment Overviews. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/tc/leukemia-treatment-overview#1. Accessed on 18/10/2017
- Leukemia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukemia/basics/symptoms/con-20024914. Accessed on 18/10/2017
- Leukemia. https://www.healthline.com/health/leukemia#overview1. Accessed on 19/10/2017