LEUKEMIA – the word derived from Greek word. Leukos means white and aima means blood. Normally the blood forming cells are affected by this disease.
It is an abnormal growth of cells that usually begins at bone marrow and results in large quantity of white blood cells or it is characterized by abnormal increase in leukocytes-(white blood cells) and eventually spread to other parts of the body. This condition is commonly developed in all male, female and children.
Pathological and clinical condition of this disease decides the classification in to two major types of leukemia. They are called acute and chronic type.
Acute type of leukemia:
In the beginning of this condition, the normal function of the bone marrow is disturbed and the bone marrow is unable to produce healthy blood cells before which huge quantity of immature blood cells are produced and due to speedy increase, production and accumulation the produced immature blood cells are taken to blood stream immediately. The speedy mechanism of production of these immature cells is not stopped. This acute type of leukemia is to be treated at once. This condition is commonly seen in children.
Chronic type of leukemia:
In this condition, normally the old cells are affected. The abnormal cells division occurs only in matured old cells. The progression is slow and it may take so many number of days, months and even years. But as in the case of acute type, this chronic type also results in formation of abundance of abnormal white blood cells. Old people are commonly affected by this type of leukemia.
The classification again divided in to lymphocytic and myelogenous. Lymphocytic again sub divided in to acute and chronic. Myelogenous again sub divided in to acute and chronic. This classification is made only on the basis of the type of cells that have been affected.
Lymphocytic leukemia is the cancerous growth that affects the newly forming lymphocyte of the bone marrow. The affection of this lymphocyte results in complete damage to the system of immunity. This is further divided in to acute and chronic type.
Myelogenous lekemias are the cancerous growth that affects the transforming marrow cells in to platelets, red blood cells and white cells. These are further divided in to acute and chronic type.
Bleeding occurs easily due to damage of the platelets. The blood clotting mechanism is upset and bleeding tendency develops with pinprick bleeds. White blood cells are responsible for fighting against any infection to save the life. But leukemia affects the entire white blood cells and results in failure to protect the life from pathogens. This causes several severe infections from tonsils to life threatening diseases like pneumonia. Anemia and dyspenia are common due to reduction in the count of red blood cells. Weight loss, fever, excess sweating and fatigue are very common in this condition. See also Symptoms of Leukemia.
Tobacco, certain viruses (Ex. Human T-lymphotropic virus), certain chemicals like benzene, hair dyes, genetic predisposition and chromosomal abnormalities are most important causes for the development of this disease.
Treatment is given in most types of leukemia with medications. Multi drugs are used with chemotherapy. Radiation is also given in some forms of leukemia. Some leukemias are treated only with bone marrow transplantations.