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How Is Leukemia Treated?

 Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood, affecting the bone marrow and other cells in the body. The form of leukemia is classified by how fast it grows and how many white blood cells are affected. There are four different types of leukemia, each one classified by the type of cell that has been affected. 

 

leukeimia, bone marrow

Some forms of this cancer are curable while others are not; treatment depends on the type of leukemia a patient has, their age, and other factors. In general, chemotherapy is used to treat leukemia patients; it can be used on its own or in conjunction with radiation therapy.
Leukemia affects people every day- around 2 million people suffer from this condition annually worldwide which makes it difficult for industry to meet demand for treatments for everyone that needs them. Early detection and treatment are the key to a person's chances of recovery from this disease. Although there is no cure for leukemia, early detection and treatment gives the best chance of improvement by saving lives and preventing permanent damage to the body.

Symptoms:

1. Weakness
2. Fatigue
3. Weight loss
4. Anemia
5. Iron deficiency anemia (can be caused by blood transfusions)
6. Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
7. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
8. Bone pain
9. Abdominal pain and bloating
10. Confusion and/or difficulty concentrating
11 . High fever
12.  Seizures
13.  Sores in mouth, throat, or eyes

Causes:

Leukemia can arise as a result of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, exposure to certain chemicals, and inherited (genetic) factors. It is most commonly caused by exposure to chemical carcinogens such as benzene. This is seen in most new cases of leukemia and smoking is also a risk factor for the disease.
Leukemia is more common in older people and those who have a family history of the condition or certain chronic health problems increased the chance of developing it. Women are more commonly affected than men and are twice as likely to be affected between the ages of 25 and 45.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells in patients with leukemia or other types of cancer by damaging their DNA, preventing them from multiplying any further. The drug is usually injected into a vein, muscle or into the brain. Cancerous cells can also be killed by radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells by:
* causing the cell to stop dividing
* preventing cell reproduction
* releasing chemicals that destroy cancerous cells
* damaging cells' DNA


The drugs used are:

Vincristine (Oncovin ) – used in chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Chimeric antigen-positive/naive) , and some non–Hodgkin's lymphoma. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor. Vincristine is also used to treat other cancers that have spread to the bone marrow.
The drug is injected into a vein, muscle, or in the brain. It does not work for everyone and may cause side effects. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and fatigue. Other possible side effects include loss of appetite, diarrhea , heart problems , numbness or tingling in hands or feet , difficulty with thinking and concentration , joint pain , shoulder pain , muscle pain (such as back pain), nerve problems (such as peripheral neuropathy ), dizziness, headache , severe abdominal pain, pneumonia and bleeding . Acute hyperthermic response is a side effect that causes the body to overheat. People may feel dizzy, faint and may get pale very quickly.
Topotecan (Hycamtin ) – used in some types of leukemia, lymphoma, and cancer of the brain or spinal cord. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor. Topotecan can be used in cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. The drug is injected into a vein, muscle or into the brain. It does not work for everyone and may cause side effects including headache , weakness, nausea , diarrhea , low blood pressure , vomiting , fatigue and sometimes infection . These side effects usually go away after treatment stops .
The drug is injected into a vein, muscle or into the brain. It does not work for everyone and may cause side effects including headache , weakness, nausea , diarrhea , low blood pressure , vomiting , fatigue and sometimes infection . These side effects usually go away after treatment stops .
For this drug, these are not reversible side effects; they may recur if you stop the medicine. These drugs are very effective against leukemia. They can be taken by mouth but they are mainly used in the form of injections. The main reason why these drugs are called "antineoplastons" is that they do have some effect on the immune system and can help to strengthen the body's defense against cancerous cells (antimetabolites).
Rituximab (Rituxan) – used in some types of leukemia, lymphoma, and cancer of the brain or spinal cord. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor. Rituximab can be given by injection into a vein, muscle or into the brain or to a large artery such as the carotid artery (lung cancer).

Diagnosis:

* Blood tests
* Liver and white blood cell (WBC) count.
* Chest X-ray, computerised tomographic scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain and spinal cord.

Treatment:

The best treatment for leukemia depends on what type of leukemia you have and how far the cancer has spread. Being able to recognize the disease early is crucial to successful treatment. Early diagnosis also helps to prevent all kinds of complications from cancer that can lead to death from infection or organ failure . Treatment can consist of combining radiation therapy drugs with chemotherapy drugs, or just one type of treatment. You may be given multiple types of drug at one time, depending on your condition and stage of the disease.
For the patient, there is always some amount of danger with any therapy. There is an increased risk of infection from the treatment, with side effects that may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and tiredness. The drugs used for treatment also can have long-term side effects that can affect the heart and liver function. Your doctor will let you know if there are any side effects that can be reduced or prevented by taking additional treatment.
The drug is injected by a catheter into a vein in the neck, then travels throughout the body. This treatment is most commonly used for patients with advanced disease that has spread outside of the lymphatic system to other areas of the body and usually involves less frequent sessions than radiation therapy. The side-effects of radioactive iodine treatment are minimal and treatable but include soreness in the mouth, temporary thyroid problems and intestinal problems such as mild diarrhea or cramps.
You would need to stay away from people who have not been exposed to radiation for at least 8 hours after treatment. Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to work. Most people can continue working as long as they are feeling well and have no side effects.
Synthetic drugs
Some new targeted therapies, such as imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) and gefitinib (Iressa), have allowed many people with chronic myelogenous leukemia to live a normal life free of symptoms and with a good quality of life for several years.
These drugs cause the body to produce defective proteins and thus stop the cell from reproducing itself. The treatment is not easy, but can be highly effective in some patients who are genetically programmed to respond favorably .
The latest drug that is showing promise in the treatment of leukemia is a drug called "lapatinib". It's in the class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Tyrosine kinase is an enzyme that controls how certain cells grow, divide, and die. There are several tyrosine kinases involved in the development of cancer. The newest member of this class of drugs is lapatinib. It helps to stop cancer by blocking an enzyme that helps cancer cells multiply. Lapatinib is being given to patients with advanced breast cancer and ovarian cancer but has shown promise as a first-line therapy for some types of leukemia .
It has been shown to cause the tumor in animals to shrink; however, human data is needed before it can be given to people. Lapatinib is an oral drug that can be taken by mouth.


Side effects may include:

All of these drugs are toxic to the liver and some of them have a lot of other side effects that necessitate extra care in terms of monitoring and treatment.
* nausea, vomiting , diarrhea
* swelling or pain in hands or feet , trouble speaking , abnormal bleeding or bruising (check with your doctor if any of these symptoms persist after several days) There are many types of leukemia. If leukemia goes untreated, the cells multiply and spread to other organs and tissues in the body. The leukemia cells crowd out the normal blood cells, depriving the body of adequate oxygen, which can lead to organ failure. Some types of leukemia are more severe than others; however all types are considered to be treatable if found early.
The treatment for acute myeloid leukemia depends on the subtype that you have:
* Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) : If your AML is caused by a chromosomal abnormality , you will be treated with chemotherapy and hormones . The chromosomal abnormality is usually too complex for surgery or radiation therapy . These treatment methods are not really successful in treating AML. Chemotherapy is more likely to be successful if a person has an abnormal chromosome and has some other symptoms, such as pain and shortness of breath .
* Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) : If your CML is caused by acquired DNA damage (for example from exposure to alkylating agents), you will be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy . The acquired DNA damage could have been caused by an occupational or infectious exposure , or by a genetic tendency to develop cancer (such as Down Syndrome , xeroderma pigmentosum, and Brugada disease ).
* Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) : If your CLL is caused by an inherited gene defect, you will be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy . The acquired DNA damage could have been caused by tobacco smoke or tungsten .
* Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) : If your ALL is caused by a chromosomal abnormality , you will be treated with chemotherapy and hormones . The chromosomal abnormality is usually too complex for surgery or radiation therapy . These treatment methods are not really successful in treating ALL. Chemotherapy is more likely to be successful if a person has an abnormal chromosome and has some other symptoms, such as pain and shortness of breath .

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