Leukemia external image leukemia_cancer_awareness.jpg
By: Breanna Titchen, Emily Porter, Nathan Rezzetano


Introduction:
Leukemia is a lethal cancer of the blood cells with limited treatment options. Many people do not survive this awful cancer. Leukemia is found more commonly in the elderly and children. Depending on what type of leukemia you have, and how quickly it is discovered, it might be deadly.



Formation:
Leukemia is a cancer that starts in the tissue that forms the blood. This tissue is the bone marrow. Infection-fighting white blood cells aren't formed due to blast cells that don't mature. It creates abnormal white blood cells that spread and multiply, and eventually overpower and outnumber the healthy cells. Depending on how worse it gets, and in what amount of time, it is either chronic leukemia, which gets worse slowly, or acute leukemia which gets worse quickly.
Leukemia Cells in Blood. http://www.stanford.edu/group/cleary/leukemia.jpg. Web. 8 Nov. 2009.
Leukemia Cells in Blood. http://www.stanford.edu/group/cleary/leukemia.jpg. Web. 8 Nov. 2009.




Symptoms:

There are four types of leukemia. The first type is chronic lymphocytic leukemia or (CLL) which is usually found in adults, and it develops more slowly. The second type of leukemia is chronic myeloid leukemia, or (CML) which is found mainly in adults and kids and contracts slowly. The third type of leukemia is acute lymphocytic leukemia, or (ALL) which is found more in kids and it develops quickly. And the fourth type, acute myeloid leukemia or (AML) which is develops very quickly and it kills most of its victims. Now depending on which of the four types of leukemia it is, symptoms vary. The most common symptoms of leukemia are; swollen lymph nodes, fevers and nightsweats, feeling weak or tired, bleeding or bruising easily, weight loss for no reason, pain in joints and bones, abdonomen swelling, and infections. If you have chronic leukemia, you don't have many symptoms until the cancer spreads more. However, if you have acute leukemia, you feel sick, with headaches, vomiting, confusion, seizures, and loss of muscle control.



Treatment:
There are many treatment options for the different types of leukemia.

  • Watchful Waiting; If you have chronic leukemia, then you might choose to do watchful waiting. During watchful waiting, the doctor checks up every couple months to make sure everything is okay, and then when the symptoms start occuring then treatment action will take place.
  • Chemotherapy; Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy the cancerous cells.
  • Targeted therapy; Targeted therapy is the use of drugs to block the further growth and multiplication of cancerous cells.
  • Biological Therapy; Biological therapy is the improving of the body's natural defenses against the cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy; Radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays to kill cells.
  • Stem Cell Transplant; In a stem cell transplant, you get treated with chemotherapy, and/ or radiation therapy and then recieve healthy stem cells and new cells replace the destroyed ones.



Risk Factors and Tests:
There are different factors that may increase your risk of having leukemia. These risks may or may not be able to be reduced if you quit the continuation of these activites or other treatments that are causing the risk. The following activites, chemicals, genetics, and treatments may increase your risk of leukemia. Exposure to high radiation, radiation therapy (may increase chance), diagnostic x-rays (have a low level radiation which may be linked to leukemia), smoking, exposure to benzene (the chemical found in cigarrettes and gasoline), chemotherapy (treated for other cancers), down syndrome and other inherited diseases, and a family history of leukemia.
There are different tests and and exams that can determine whether or not you do have the cancer leukemia. Your doctor may perform one or more of the following; a regular physical exam, a routine blood test, a spinal tap, an aspiration, blood tests, bone marrow biopsy, cytogenetics, or a chest x-ray.


Doctors all over the country are conducting clinical trials, tests, experiments, and working with volunteers to improve treatments and make them more safe and effective. Hopefully, in the near future, our doctors and scientists will come up with the cure for not only leukemia, but all the different types of devastating cancers.


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