Leukemia is the cancer that damages the blood-forming tissues like the bone marrow and lymphatic system. There are several types of leukemia, and some are even common in children. However, most of the forms of the disease occur in adults. The treatment for leukemia depends on its kind and the more advanced the case, the more advanced the procedures. An example of treatment would be from cord blood banking, where healthy individuals donate blood from their baby’s umbilical cord after birth to help individuals battling leukemia and provide them with healthy stem cells.
Let us understand the early symptoms and causes of leukemia.
Symptoms of leukemia
Its symptoms vary depending on the age of a person and the type of leukemia. However, some of the common ones are listed here.
- Poor blood clotting
The blood might not clot, resulting in easy bleeding even from minor bruises. Further, the process of healing can be slowed down drastically. This could also lead to the formation of petechiae, which are purple and red spots on the body. These can indicate difficulty in clotting of blood. Platelets, which are very important for clotting of blood, may be surrounded by immature while blood cells, which often leads to petechiae.
- Infections at regular intervals
The inability of white blood cells to function properly leads to frequent infections, as white blood cells are responsible for this. If the cells do not perform their function well, the immune system does not work in the right manner and could destroy the useful cells of the body.
The count of red blood cells decreases, thus leading to a person becoming anemic. Anemia fundamentally means that the hemoglobin in the body has decreased considerably. The purpose of hemoglobin is to carry iron in the body. When iron in the body is not sufficient, the skin could turn pale and even breathing can become difficult.
- Other symptoms
Other symptoms of leukemia include fever or chills, loss of weight, persistent fatigue, excessive sweating during the night, pain in the bones and a feeling of tenderness, enlarged liver or spleen, and frequent nosebleeds.
Causes of leukemia
The causes of leukemia are not clearly known, even when the symptoms are observed. However, in order to ensure one can avail timely treatment, there are some risk factors that we must know of. While some of the risk factors are beyond our control, we can avoid others by taking necessary precaution.
A family history of leukemia can put a person at risk of developing the condition in their life.
Among other ill-effects, smoking is one of the major triggers of leukemia. People who smoke are exposed to the risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
- Genetic disorders
Several genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome can lead to the development of leukemia.
- Blood disorders
Several blood disorders, like myelodysplastic syndrome, can also lead to leukemia in life, and that is why they’re also sometimes referred to as preleukemia.
- Cancer treatment
If a patient has undergone treatment for cancer with radiation or chemotherapy, the chances of leukemia increase.