7 February 2023
Leukaemia that often starts in bone marrow is a type of cancer that destroys body's ability to make healthy blood cells. It mostly affects white blood cells and it can be both aggressive or slow-spreading depending on the type of leukaemia. It is one of the most common cancers in children and teens and elderly are also more at risk. Fever or chills, fatigue, frequent infections, weight loss, enlarged liver or spleen, nose bleeds are some common signs of leukaemia. Exposure to radiation and chemicals, genetic issues are some of the reasons behind this cancer. In some cases, leukaemia can be quite aggressive when immature white blood cells multiply quickly in the bone marrow. This can crowd out healthy cells in no time and can cause severe bleeding or infections.
"Leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells. It is present in the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. Leukaemia can be chronic and acute based on the duration of symptoms. Chronic leukaemia is not life-threatening however acute leukaemia is life-threatening if not treated immediately. Some leukaemia types are more prevalent in children. Most adults who develop other kinds of leukaemia do so. Your white blood cells are powerful anti-infection agents, and they generally grow and divide according to your body's needs in an organized way. However, the bone marrow produces an excessive amount of abnormal, defective white blood cells in leukaemia patients. Depending on leukaemia’s kind and other variables, treatment for leukaemia may be difficult," says Dr. Sainath Bhethanabhotla, Consultant Medical and Paediatric Oncologist, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.
Leukaemia symptoms and indicators vary depending on the type of leukaemia. Dr Bhethanabhotla shares some frequently seen symptoms with HT Digital.
• Fever or chills
• Persistent fatigue, weakness
• Frequent or severe infections
• Unintentional weight loss
• Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
• Easy bleeding or bruising
• Recurrent nosebleeds
• Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
• Excessive sweating, especially at night
• Bone pain or tenderness
Treatment for your leukaemia depends on many factors. Based on your age, general health, the type of leukaemia you have, and if it has progressed to your central nervous system, your doctor will decide how to treat your leukaemia.
Common treatments used to fight leukaemia include according to Dr Bhethanabhotla are:
• Chemotherapy: The main kind of treatment for leukaemia is chemotherapy. Chemicals are used in this medication to kill leukaemia cells. Depending on the type of leukaemia you have, either a single medicine or a combination of medications may be prescribed to you. These drugs can be injected directly into a vein or consumed as pills.
• Targeted therapy: Drug therapies that target abnormalities in cancer cells are known as targeted therapies. Targeted medication therapies can kill cancer cells by preventing these aberrations. To determine whether targeted therapy might be beneficial for you, your leukaemia cells will be examined.
• Bone marrow transplant: Bone marrow transplants, also known as stem cell transplants, replace diseased bone marrow with leukaemia-free stem cells that will rebuild healthy bone marrow, assisting in the restoration of healthy stem cells.
• Immunotherapy: Your body's disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that help them hide from the immune system cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process. Engineering immune cells to fight leukaemia. A specialized treatment called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy takes your body's germ-fighting T cells, engineers them to fight cancer, and infuses them back into your body. CAR-T cell therapy might be an option for certain types of leukaemia which are refractory to conventional chemotherapy.
Doctor Name: Dr. Sainath Bhethanabhotla, Consultant Medical and Paediatric Oncologist, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.
Reference Link: https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/leukaemia-signs-and-symptoms-how-to-detect-treat-the-aggressive-blood-cancer-101675752796185.html