Leukemia is a blood disease in which the bone marrow produces more leukocytes, better known as white blood cells. These cells divide and multiply endlessly. Cancer cells prevent the creation of red blood cells and platelets, leading to the development of anemia. These cancer cells can affect other organs, such as the kidneys, liver, arm, lymph nodes, and brain. It is cancer that affects about 5,000 people a year in Spain.
Anyone can get leukemia. However, depending on leukemia its appearance is more frequent at certain ages. Later, we will look at the symptoms of leukemia.
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Causes of leukemia
In most cases, the cause of leukemia cannot be established. However, there are some factors related to cancer:
- Genetic . Leukemia is more common in twins than in the rest of the population. People with Down Syndrome and Fanconi Syndrome are also more likely to develop leukemia. In some cases, cancer may be from a family history.
- Immunodeficiencies. People who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy are more likely to have leukemia.
- Environmental factors . Exposure to ionizing radiation or chemicals such as benzene, some drugs, and viruses. Smoking also increases the risk of leukemia.
Types of Leukemia
We can classify leukemia according to the speed with which the disease progresses. We differentiate four types of leukemia:
- Acute lymphatic leukemia. In this case, the problem is that the cells that become lymphocytes become cancerous and become part of the bone marrow instead of normal ones. These cancer cells can spread to other organs such as the liver, kidneys, arm, lymph nodes, and the brain, leading to diseases such as anemia, meningitis, and kidney and liver failure, among others. This type of leukemia is the one that occurs most frequently in children.
- Chronic lymphatic leukemia. Cancer cells reproduce in the lymph nodes spreading in the liver and spleen, subsequently invading the bone marrow. It depends on the number of lymphocytes in the blood and bone marrow and the capacity of each person’s immune system. It is the most common among people over 60 years of age.
- Acute myeloid leukemia . Myelocytes become cancerous and replace normal bone marrow cells. In this case, the cancer cells also spread to other organs. This type of leukemia usually affects adults and is associated with radiation exposures and the use of chemotherapy.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia. Patients suffer from anemia and a lack of platelets in the Blood. In this case, the cancer cells are more concentrated in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver. Over time, symptoms associated with the disease are tiredness, loss of appetite and weight, fever, weakness, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Typically, patients present with symptoms at the time of diagnosis. However, there is also the possibility that leukemia has no signs and is not detected until a blood test. Next, we will explain the symptoms of leukemia.
General symptoms of leukemia
At the beginning of acute leukemia, symptoms usually appear abruptly in a short period, usually no longer than three months. The most common symptoms are usually:
- Fever accompanied by sweating.
- Lack of appetite.
- She was bleeding in the skin or mucosa in half of the patients with leukemia.
Swelling of the abdomen
As we explained previously, cancer cells can expand and reproduce in various organs such as the liver and spleen, causing an increase in their size. This produces a bloated or full feeling by eating a small amount of food.
Swelling of the lymph nodes
When the lymph nodes are in the neck, armpit and under the arm and inflammation occurs, it is possible to notice a lump under the skin since they are located close to the surface. Like the previous point, this is produced by expanding cancer cells.
Bone or joint pain
This ailment occurs mainly in children and occurs when leukemia cells accumulate on the surface of the bones or in the joints, causing pain.
To date, there are no known measures to help prevent leukemia. However, there are several factors to take into account that are related to the development of leukemia:
- Lead a healthy life . Exercise. Get the right amount of sleep.
- Avoid toxic products, such as alcohol and tobacco.
- Avoid exposure to high radiation.
- Recognizing the symptoms early is essential to be able to fight the disease.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.