Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
Lymphoblastic – that's one funny sounding name – is a fatal disease in which cells which usually develop into lymphocytes turn cancerous and soon take the place of normal cells in the bone marrow. Another name for lymphoblastic is ‘acute lymphocytic leukemia.' People of all ages are susceptible to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). However, it is the most common cancer in children and those under 15 years of age are more prone to it. It affects youngsters between the ages of 2 and 5 and is common in adults over 45.
In acute lymphocytic leukemia, undeveloped leukemia cells collect in the bone marrow. They destroy and replace cells that produce normal blood cells. They are transported in the blood stream to the brain, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and testes and here they continue to grow and divide. By irritating layers of the tissue, they cause inflammation, anemia, liver and kidney collapse, and damage to other organs.
In acute lymphocytic leukemia, the bone marrow is unable to produce sufficient normal blood cells resulting in fever and a great amount of sweating. This could be an indication of infection, the cause of which is too few normal white blood cells. When the red blood cell count drops, the patient develops weakness, paleness, and tiredness, which indicate anemia. Bruising and bleed comes easily in the form of bleeding gums and nosebleeds. Leukemia cells in the brain may lead to irritability, headaches and vomiting. Leukemia cells in the bone marrow can cause bone and joint pain. If or when the leukemia cells enlarge, then pain and fullness in the abdomen can result.
Chemotherapy is a highly effective treatment and is given in stages. The aim of this type of treatment is to reduce the disease by destroying leukemia cells so that the growth of normal cells can once again continue in the bone marrow. In order to treat anemia and prevent bleeding, it may be necessary to undergo blood and platelet transfusions. Intravenous fluids and therapy may also be used to get rid of harmful substances such as uric acid that are released following the destruction of leukemia cells. A few weeks after the initial treatment, further treatment, which is known as consolidation chemotherapy, is administered to obliterate any remaining leukemia cells.
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