Cancer of any type can be fatal for the person suffering from it. There are many types of cancers affecting different parts of body- such as- lungs, esophagus, colon, brain, skin or blood. Blood cancer among these is different from the rest of cancers because it does not emerge from a tumor or uncontrolled growth of cells unlike the other types of cancer. Blood cancer or leukemia is a malignant progressive disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes or white blood cells which are called blasts.
Leukemia or blood cancer starts in the bone marrow or other blood forming organ where constituents of blood are formed like red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.All the components of blood has their own specific task to perform such as, red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues throughout the body, white blood cells help to fight infections and platelets help in formation of blood clots that control bleeding in case of injury. All these cells are made from stem cells whenever the body needs them. They perform their function and die when they grow old or are damaged.
In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow starts to make a lot of abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells. They don't do the work of normal white blood cells, they grow faster than normal cells, and they don't stop growing or die like other blood cells when they should.
Over time, leukemia cells can crowd out the normal blood cells which make it harder for the normal cells to perform their work. This can lead to serious problems such as anemia, bleeding, and infections. Leukemia cells can also spread to the lymph nodes or other organs and cause swelling or pain.
The cause of leukemia is not known but there are several factors that increase the risk of having leukemia. These factors are:
People exposed to high levels of radiation are likely to be affected by leukemia.
Smoking cigarettes not only increases the risk of lung cancer but also of acute myeloid leukemia.
Exposure to benzene in the workplace can cause acute myeloid leukemia. It may also cause chronic myeloid leukemia or acute lymphocytic leukemia. Patients undergoing chemotherapy due to treatment of cancer can also acquire leukemia.
Down syndrome and certain other inherited diseases increase the risk of developing acute leukemia.
If anybody in family had or has blood cancer or leukemia, it increases the risk.
Symptoms of leukemia
Like all blood cells, leukemia cells travel through the body. The symptoms of leukemia depend on the number of leukemia cells and where these cells deposit in the body.
Common symptoms of chronic or acute leukemia are as follows:
Swollen lymph nodes that often don't hurt (especially lymph nodes in the neck or armpit)
Fever or sweating at nights
Feeling weak or tired
Bleeding and bruising easily (bleeding gums, purplish patches in the skin, or tiny red spots under the skin)
Swelling or discomfort in the abdomen due to swollen spleen or liver
Losing weight for no known reason
Pain in the bones or joints
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