The development in medical science has effectively controlled many of the dangerous health conditions of the past centuries. However, new challenges have emerged which are even harder to manage. This includes the prevalence of different types of cancer. Leukemia is one of them. There are a number of signs your body may be warning you about leukemia.
Leukemia is mainly the name given to the cancer of blood cells in the body of the person. A lot of people are aware of the general meaning but there are a few who know which specific cells is this cancer related to.
There are three main big categories of blood cells. These are platelets, red blood cells (RBCs), and white blood cells (WBCs). Leukemia is linked with white blood cells which are an essential part of major functions in the body.
A lack of white blood cells in a person means a failing immune system. An overgrowth of them can have equally dangerous consequences.
Though white blood cells are needed for protection from fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances, an abundance of them can affect other types of blood cells. In leukemia, they divide at an abnormal rate and soon outnumber and take the place of other cells.
White blood cells are produced mainly in the bone marrow which is why leukemia is also called bone marrow cancer. Some of them may be made by the thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes.
Causes of Leukemia
Leukemia is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States, especially in the under 15 population. According to statistics, 62,130 cases of bone marrow cancer were diagnosed in 2017. It is a complicated condition which worsens over time or rapidly depending on its type.
Bone marrow cancer develops when there is some form of mutation in the immature white blood cells. It damages the DNA of these cells and leads to malfunctioning in them. Soon, they start to divide abnormally, at a very fast rate.
Normally, every type of cells dies after a certain time and is replaced by the new cells. However, in the case of cancerous white blood cells, it does not happen. Instead, they start amalgamating and form cancerous tumors in a person.
In addition, the production of healthy white blood cells is also hindered. If not controlled at the right time, the abnormal cells may outnumber the healthy ones in the blood. This will cause severe health issues and leave the person with a considerably weak immunity.
Symptoms of Leukemia
- Constant fever
- Feeling cold and chills
- Unexplained weight loss
- Enlargement of spleen or liver
- Extreme weakness
- Petechiae or appearance of red spots on different parts of the skin
- Pain in the bones
- Tenderness in the bones
- Recurring infections due to poor immunity
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Difficulty in stopping any kind of bleeding
- Bruising easily
Risks and Precautions
Leukemia, unfortunately, cannot be prevented if there is a family history or genetic disposition. Sometimes, the reason for having bone marrow cancer may even not be diagnosed.
What you can do is keep an eye on the risk factors. Exposure to some types of chemicals such as benzene or petrochemicals has been linked with leukemia. Other things that may cause it are conditions such as HIV, smoking, and substances in hair dyes.
People who have had chemotherapy or had artificial ionizing radiation also have a higher risk of leukemia. Make sure to visit a doctor and get a screening on time if you see any of the signs.