Leukemia

Leukemia is a disease characterized by
the formation of abnormal numbers of white blood
cells, for which no certain cure has been found.

Leukemia is also conditions characterized by the
transformation of normal blood-forming cells into
abnormal white blood cells whose unrestrained
growth overwhelms and replaces normal bone
marrow and blood cells. Leukemias are named
according to the normal cell from which they
originate, such as Lymphocyte Leukemia.

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Lymphocyte Leukemia is where a Lymphocyte
cell is transformed into a Leukemia cell. Another
example of Leukemia is Myelocytic or
(Granulocytic Leukemia). This forms when a
Myelocytic cell is changed or transformed into a
Leukemia cell. Different Leukemia’s are located in
the microscope and by how much protein they
contain. These Leukemia’s are usually very severe
and need treatment right away. The present
incidence of new cases per year in the United
States is about 25 to every 100,000 persons. The
danger to the patient lies in the growth of these
abnormal white cells, which interfere with the
growth of the red blood cells, normal white blood
cells, and the blood platelets. The uncontrolled
growth of the abnormal white cells produces a
tendency to unstop bleeding, the risk of getting
serious infection in the wounds, and a very small
possibility of obstruction of the blood vessels.

Treatment of these Leukemias include
chemotherapy with alkylafing agents, or
antimetabodies that suppress the growth of
abnormal white cells. Another treatment of some
kind would be the x-ray or the administration or
radioactive substances, or radiophosphorus, may
be used. After treatment these diseases may last
for many years. Age of the person diagnosed with
Leukemia does play an important part in how that
individual responds to any treatment. The older the
person the less response he may have to
treatment. Leukemia in Animals white blood cells
is much less common as Leukemia in humans
white blood cells. Today’s treatment mostly
includes chemotherapy and or bone marrow
transplantation supportive care, where transfusions
of blood components and prompt treatment of
complicating infections, is very important. Ninety
percent of children with Acute Lymphocyte
Leukemia have received chemotherapy and fifty
percent of theses children have been fully cured of
Leukemia. Treatment of AML or Acute
Myeolcytic Leukemia is not as successful but has
been improving more and more throughout the
1990’s. Scientists that study the cause of
Leukemia have not had very much success lately.

Very large doses of x-rays can increase the
efficacy growth of Leukemia. Chemicals such as
Benzene also may increase the risk of getting
Leukemia. Scientists have tried experiments on
Leukemia in Animals by transmitting RNA into the
body of the Animal. Interpretation of these results
in relation with human Leukemia is very cautious at
this time. Studies have also suggested that family
history, race, genetic factors, and geography may
all play some part in determining the rates of
growth of these Leukemias. Stewart Alsop is an
example of Acute Myeoblastic Leukemia, or
AML. On the day of July 21, 1971 Stewart was
made aware of some of the doctors suspicions
due to his bone marrow test. He was told by his
doctor in Georgetown that his marrow slides
looked so unusual that he had brought in other
doctors to view the test and they could not come
to an agreement so they all suggested that he take
another bone marrow exam. The second test was
known to be “hypocelluar” meaning that it had
very few cells of any sort, normal of abnormal.

The Georgetown doctors counted, about
fourty-four percent of his cells were abnormal, and
he added, with a condor that he later discovered
characteristics. “They were ugly-looking cells.”
Most of them looked like Acute Meyoblastic
Leukemia cells, but not all some of them looked
like the cells of another kind of Leukemia,
Acatymphoblastic Leukemia, and some of them
looked like the cells of still another kind of bone
marrow cancer, not a Leukemia, it is called
Dysprotinemia. And even the Myeloblastic cells
didn’t look exactly like Myeloblastic cells should
look. Stewart has been treated with chemotherapy
and is still living today but he doesn’t have very
much longer to live. Sadako Saski was born in
Japan in the year of 1943 she died twelve years
later in the year of 1955 of Leukemia. She was in
Hiroshima when the United States Air Force
dropped an atomic bomb on that city in an attempt
to end World War II. Sadako Saski was only two
years old when all this had happened. Ten years
later, Sadako had been diagnosed with Leukemia
as a result of the radiation from the bomb. At this
time Sadako was only a twelve year old little girl
and she died of Leukemia. Everyday Sadako
grew weaker and weaker thinking about her death
and the day finally came. Sadako died on October
25, 1955. Sadako was very much loved by all of
her classmates. At the time of death, her
classmates folded 356 paper cranes to be buried
with her. This is a symbol in Jpan of
thoughtfulness. In summary to what I have learned
about Leukemia it is a very painful disease. The
people with Leukemia suffer very much throughout
the disease and treatment of the disease, even if
they are eventually cured. The treatment it
took to get there was very painful. The studies of
Leukemia have helped alot of people to be cured
but there are still alot of people suffering due to no
cure found to help them. I’m sure like all other
cures needed, the money is short funded for the
research that cost so very much. Maybe someday
soon, we hope, they will find a cure for all kinds of
cancer.

Leukemia

.. take anticancer drugs for treatment of diseases may have a chance of getting leukemia because the patients received cancer chemotherapy over a long period of time: “Up to 10 percent of patients with Hodgkin’s disease who have been intensively treated with chemotherapeutic drugs may ultimately display signs of an acute granulocytic leukemia” (356). There is antileukemia therapy for Hodgkin’s disease. They are far more effective and outweigh the chance of developing leukemia later on. According to The Cambridge World History of Human Disease, the early symptoms of leukemia are like many other medical problems.

Fever, loss of weight and fatigue are the general symptoms of leukemia: Fever may be the most common symptom. It is usually caused by an infection of the skin, lung, or urinary tract, but it also may be due directly to the leukemia itself or to the release of compounds by the abnormal white cells. Infections are frequently because the leukemic white cells cannot protect against invasion by bacteria or other organic causes of disease, and too few normal white cells remain to do so. (846) The book also states that since these symptoms are involved with many illnesses, doctors do not always have suspicion of leukemia. Early detection of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is often found in elders that are being examined for other medical problems.

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On the other hand, acute leukemia can occur very suddenly, especially in children because it seems like a flu or cold: “Common symptoms of the leukemias do not seem to be a direct result of the increase and spread of leukemia cells. Instead, the functioning of the remaining normal elements of the blood and bone marrow is impaired” (847). Up to one third of the patient with cancer in blood have normal or low circulation white blood counts. In leukemia, the bone marrow is too crowded with white blood cells that it cannot move out into the bloodstream. Bleeding problems are not serious in the early period of the disease, but they can become serious as it progresses: “Bleeding is usually mild at first, with only small patches of black and blue discoloration under the skin. Later, the suppression of the platelet-forming cells in the bone marrow reduces the number of platelets produced” (848). Sometimes, patients may feel pain in the joints and bones, but it is not a major effect.

Also, other organs in the body such as the liver, heart, kidney, brain and the digestive system will continue to function quite normal under the early stage of the disease. According to the Cancer Book, all the patients with leukemia must have a record from all the physical examinations and laboratory investigations. The record will provide the physician a base line for treatment and to see if there are any other kinds of medical problem. Usually leukemia can be suspected by the physician based on the patient’s history and other symptom: “The definitive diagnosis must be made by examination of the cells in the bone marrow” (382). Observation of blood samples can confirm the doctor with the suspect of the disease. Also, inserting a thin needle into the marrow-rich cavity, in the backbone or the breastbone can do a bone marrow test.

The test take about 15 to 20 minutes and it can be performed in local clinics or doctor’s offices. The test may seem frightened to many patients, but it only involves a little discomfort in the back of the body. The Cancer Book further states that if leukemia is confirmed, different types of study will be performed: “Immunologic tissue typing, blood typing, coagulation and transfusion studies will be done. This information is most valuable if acquired before transfusions have made it difficult to test the properties of the patient’s own blood” (382). Bone transplantation is dependent on the tissue typing. Brothers and sisters of the sick patient are strongly suggested to tissue typing because they will have a greater chance of success in the bone marrow transplantation. In the Cancer Book, the information shows that the first treatment for all types of leukemia is chemotherapy.

The purpose of this treatment is to destroy the lurkemic cells in the bone marrow. But at the same time, the normal cells are being destroyed. It is hoping that the destruction of the leukemic cells will let the body develop the bone marrow with new and healthy cells. Patients will receive combination of chemotherapeutic drugs. It depends on the types of leukemia the patients carry; a completed remission is possible in 50 to 90 percent of patients.

The chemotherapy protocol is divided into three stages-induction, consolidation, and maintenance: “During the induction stage, the patient receives intensive chemotherapy in an attempt to induce a complete remission. The largest number of leukemic cells are destroyed at this time” (384). When the first remission is completed, the consolidation stage will take place: “The purpose of this stage is to eliminate any remaining leukemic eliminate any remaining leukemic cells” (384). The consolidation stage primarily uses the same drugs as in the induction stage. Both of the stages last about 2 to 3 months, depending on the patient’s response to the treatment.

If the remission is succeed, the patient will enter the maintenance stage: “It is designed to keep the patient in remission by preventing leukemic cells from returning to the bone marrow” (384). This stage will provide treatment to the patients while they can maintain a near-normal life style. From the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, there is an article that talks about other treatments beside chemotherapy: “A bone marrow transplant is another treatment option for patients with acute leukemia” (357). The procedure is still under investigation, and it is only performed at selected medical centers. This method is usually not being considered unless the chemotherapy is not effective.

Before the transplantation, the patient will require to take ultrahigh doses of radiation and chemotherapy to destroy all blood-forming cells. The success rate for bone marrow transplants vary. The average survival rate is 10 to 15 percent. In further discussion, it is found that problems can occur after injection of the donor marrow: “The recipient’s immune system can reject the marrow transplant or the donor’s marrow, in its immunologically foreign environment, can reject the host” (358). For this reason, the closer the genetic makeup between the donor and host, the better the transplant will succeed.

Some patients will try to match themselves with a donor from their family or closed relatives because it will give them a better chance of the transplant’s process. In the transplantation, the following steps will be done: “The donor’s cells are injected into the recipient’s bloodstream to re-seed the marrow with healthy cells. The leukemia patient is kept in isolation to diminish the chance of infection and is given transfusions and antibiotics as needed” (387). In the bone marrow transplantation, the donor’s cell is to develop into new healthy cells in the sick patient’s body. According to the Cancer Book, great progress has been make over the last thirty years in treating the disease.

An increasing number of patients are cured. Although the process of treatment is long and produces painful illnesses, but rate of success in remission and other methods are worthwhile for most patients.

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