Minding Your Health: All You Should Know About Leukemia

LifeStyle & Health

December 28, 2018 11:16 By Mambee

We all dread the occurrence of cancer, but that does not mean we should dwell in ignorance. Ignorance is not bliss, so settle in and let us get enlightened. Ever heard of leukemia?

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This is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which presents itself as the production of unhealthy blood cells that eventually overwhelm the healthy ones and cause complications in blood function.

Are you at risk?

Leukemia is believed to be a childhood form of cancer, but that is not all that it is. It is also frequently diagnosed among older people, between the age of 65 and 74, with 66 being the average age.  

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Also, there are some factors that contribute to the risk of developing it, such as:

  • Family history of leukemia;
  • Being a smoker;
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals;
  • Genetic abnormalities.

Common symptoms of leukemia

The symptoms are never to be underestimated, so it is always better to be armed with knowledge.

1. Shortness of breath: Equally associated with lung cancer, it can occur in people with leukemia due to anemia, or masses in the chest;

2. Fatigue: Also connected to anemia, it is one of the most common symptoms, and it worsens over time;

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3. Swollen lymph nodes: Around the neck, armpits, and groin, one may find swellings that keep growing;

4. Feeling bloated: At times, leukemia can cause swelling in the spleen, which pushes up on the stomach and makes one feel full after eating little;

5. Spontaneous bruising orbleeding: This refers to unexplained bruises, usually in the extremities or bleeding in the gums, bowels, head or lungs;

6. Abdominal pain: Due to an enlarged spleen, the upper-left side of the abdomen may hurt terribly;

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7. Enlarged gums: This is found mainly in individuals who have acute leukemia;

8. Petechiae: These are small red spots under the skin that are caused by bleeding. They are often seen around the ankles due to the gravitational pull of fluids in the body;

9. Recurring infection: Infections that keep coming back might be a pointer to leukemia.

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10. Extreme paleness: This usually shows that the leukemia is advanced.

Other symptoms include skin rashes, severe headaches, bone pain, night sweats, and fever.

Treating leukemia

You may assume that being diagnosed with leukemia is a death sentence, but it is not. Even people in their 60s have a 55-60% chance of recovery. According to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society, the overall relative survival rate for leukemia is 63.7%, and this is why you should see a doctor the moment you observe any of the symptoms above .

Your doctor may choose a variety of treatments based on your health, age, the type of leukemia it is, and its level of aggressiveness.

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Generally, types of treatment available include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, biological therapy, and stem cell transplant.

We emphasize that it is safer to go for periodic checks to ensure you are healthy. The moment you experience any of the symptoms above, insist on a biopsy as it is always best to err on the side of caution.

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not treat yourself, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.The material in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist.