Lori Kracl COMP/156 Lawrence Daly
Leukemia Seers Stat facts states that in the United States an estimated 44,600 men, women and children will be diagnosed with leukemia. In 2011, an estimated 21,780 died from leukemia. Even though researchers are doing all they can, leukemia affects thousands and not enough is being done to find a cure. This cancer hurts lives in so many ways. It changes a victim’s life forever and their family too.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. It starts in the white blood cells. There is a mutation in the cell’s DNA that takes place and causes instructions to not happen correctly. “The mutations cause the cell to grow and divide more rapidly and continue living when normal cells would die.” Eventually these abnormal cells take over and healthy cells are then crowded out. Leukemia starts in the bone marrow or the soft part of the bone. It usually invades the blood system quickly. From there is goes to other parts of the body. There are different types of leukemia, the two most common being ALL and AML. ALL accounts for most childhood leukemia. ALL is acute so it grows fast and starts in the lymphoid cells in the bone marrow. ALL is most commonly associated with radiation exposure. There is evidence that there is leukemia present at birth in some ALL patients, “suggesting a prenatal origin for the leukemic clone.” AML is also acute but it starts in the myeloid cells that form white blood cells. AML occurs when there are too many immature cells in the blood and bone marrow. AML is usually diagnosed by doing blood cell counts. There are low levels red blood cells which can cause anemia. Usually if this happens then a bone marrow biopsy is done to examine. AML accounts for most of the remaining cases with a few other cases being a rare type of leukemia. Children with Down syndrome are more likely to be diagnosed with ALL and AML than other cancers because of genetic factors. Chances of survival have become greater over the years because of our increase in knowledge. Children are likely to have two remissions when diagnosed with leukemia. With the first remission they are still given a good chance of survival. If they get leukemia again and go into a second remission, their chances of survival are not good when the cancer comes back. Most ALL and AML patients are more likely to live 5 years longer with the current treatments that we now have.
There are many symptoms of leukemia. The visual symptoms are unusual bruising that occurs for no know reason. This can be as simple as bruises showing up for no reason to massive bruising from a minor injury. Petechiae is a condition where tiny blood blisters form on the skin surface. This condition looks similar to a rash or freckles on the skin. Other visible signs are pale skin, weight loss for no know reason and prolonged bleeding from minor cuts. The non-visible symptoms are feeling achy all the time, shortness of breath after doing menial tasks, headaches all the time and enlarged lymph nodes without any sickness that would cause them to be swollen. Most of these symptoms will be combined and not just one of them alone. Many times leukemia goes undetected because the symptoms are so easy to misdiagnose. Many of these symptoms are linked to other illnesses or diseases so they look elsewhere before they look at leukemia. Many of us have these symptoms when we have the flu or the common cold. It is the combination of symptoms, the longevity of the situation and the combination of the symptoms. When a doctor suspects leukemia they start by running blood work to determine the blood cell count. If there is an issue with an abnormal blood cell count then they take a bone marrow sample to examine under the microscope. This is done by inserting a needle into the hip bone and extracting marrow from the center of the bone. This is a very painful procedure and is not done on a