Leukemia is a medical term which describes cancer of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). But generally, leukemia refers to cancer of white blood cells, which constitutes vital part of the immune system.
The exact cause of leukemia still unclear, but there are some factors which increase the risk of leukemia; the most significant ones include the following:
1. Positive family history.
2. Genetic disorders.
3. Excessive smoking.
4. Frequent exposure to radiation.
5. Previous exposure to radiotherapy or chemotherapy for treatment of other tumors.
Symptoms of leukemia tend to be vague and they usually vary from patient to patient. Anyway, the most common general symptoms include the following:
• Chronic fatigue.
• Bone ache.
• Painless swelling of lymph nodes.
• Excessive night sweats.
• Unexplained weight loss.
• Recurrent exposure to infection.
• Hepatomegaly or splenomegaly.
• Bruising easily.
In addition to the above symptoms, leukemia seems to be responsible for other symptoms according to the affected organs. For example, if leukemia spreads to the brain, it could be manifested with headache, dizziness, confusion and seizures.
Leukemia can be diagnosed by CBC and tumor markers. For staging, bone marrow biopsy and radiological examinations (X-ray, ultrasound, CT) are done.
Treatment of leukemia depends on type and stage of cancer; management options include the following:
Transplantation of stem cells.
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