Leukemia is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. Because the disease is usually discovered late. Who has more a nose bleed, think, finally, not equal to cancer. Other, seemingly harmless symptoms should check with a doctor
- In the case of blood cancer (leukemia) multiply-functional blood cells, especially immune cells explosively.
- Only half of the patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.
- Radio active radiation and benzene from cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, increase the risk of leukemia significantly.
Leukemia, colloquially blood cancer, is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. In comparison to other types of cancer, such as breast cancer or colorectal cancer is leukemia, with approximately 12,000 new cases per year, including about 600 children, is rather rare.
However, because of the blood cancer is usually discovered late, the prognosis is not good. Only half of sufferers live for five years after a diagnosis of “leukemia” yet. Permanent cure is rare. Unlike with other cancers, is associated with a younger age at leukemia by the way, with a better prognosis. So the chances of cure for children with leukaemia are good for seniors, rather badly.
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Signs of leukemia
But why leukemia is often detected so late? The symptoms of this diseases of the hematopoietic system are very non-specific. Who, for example, often times bleeding from the nose, or rapidly hematoma develops, thinks the same of cancer. Other symptoms that may point to leukemia:
- constantly tired
- pale skin
- small, punctate hemorrhages under the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- light-weight, persistent fever, even though no infection is present
- Bone pain
- Sweating, especially at night
- frequent infections, so the immune system is weak
- swollen lymph nodes under the armpits and the Groin
One or more of these signs does not mean that leukemia is present. However, the symptoms you should definitely check with a doctor.
Leukemia – diagnosis with a blood test and bone marrow examination
For the diagnosis of leukemia, different methods available to the physician:
- Blood test
- Bone marrow puncture (the posterior iliac crest, for the removal of only local anesthetic is needed)
- Biopsy of suspicious lymph nodes
- Infested lymph nodes to investigate with imaging techniques such as computer tomography or ultrasound
- Especially the blood test provides the first important clues to a possible leukemia.
What is leukemia?
Leukemia is the generic term for malignant diseases associated with a disturbance of blood formation. Therefore, cancer of the blood called. The cause of most types of Leukaemia, a Mutation in the immature precursors of blood cells in the bone marrow.
To understand the mechanism better: All blood cells arise from a common, blood-forming type of stem cells in the bone marrow. After that, they split into two groups
- myeloid cells
- lymphatic cells
Then the young blood cells pass through stages of development, approach to leave the bone marrow and Mature in lymph accounts and spleen. You will be
- red blood cells (erythrocytes)
- white blood cells (leukocytes, belongs to the group of granulocytes and lymphocytes)
- Blood Platelets (Thrombocytes).
In each Phase of their ripening, they can degenerate.
Non-functional blood cells multiply uncontrollably
Mutated blood cells do not Mature normally. You can kill their differentiated functions, such as disease germs, will not meet, but share in an uncontrolled manner and bear the same characteristics as those of the degenerate output of the cell. These clones hot leukemic blasts.
They accumulate in the bone marrow. This in turn hinders the formation of healthy blood cells.
This imbalance expresses itself in the whole body and can lead to the above-mentioned symptoms. Anemia, immune deficiency, bleeding tendency and organ damage are the consequences of leukemia.
Leukemia the four main forms
Depending on the type of cell that is degenerate, and the course of the disease, the leukemias in various forms of divide. A sudden, strong feeling of illness is the acute forms of typical, such as in the case of a flu. Chronic leukaemias develop, however discreetly one after the other. The complaints are nonspecific. The various forms of leukemia:
- acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
- acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) – the consequences of radioactive radiation
This leukemia form the myeloid cells and uncontrollably increased. This relates to a part of the white blood cells, platelets, and red and blood. Cause pollution by chemical substances such as benzene and ionizing radiation, for example, by radioactive substances.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) – Philadelphia-Cromosom
In this case be formed in the bone marrow too many granulocytes. The majority of patients with CML have a specific genetic change called the Philadelphia chromosome. This Mutation arises in the course of life and is not hereditary.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of cancer in children
Here is the cause of degenerate precursors of the lymphocytes. ALL mainly affects children and young adults. It is the most common type of cancer in children. Usually acute occurs lymphocytic leukemia at the age of three to seven years.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – the most common blood cancer
Also in CLL function multiply untüchtige lymphocytes in an uncontrolled manner. Depending on which sub-group of lymphocytes, the subject is divided into
- chronic lymphocytic leukemia of B-cell type (B-CLL),
- chronic lymphocytic leukemia of T cell type (T-CLL) or
- large granular lymphocyte leukemia (LGL).
The cancer affects the lymphatic System, so lymph nodes, spleen and/or liver. Usually it is B-CLL, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the most common leukemia form. Mainly affects men. A presenting symptom are swollen lymph nodes.
Acute leukemia and chronic leukemia treatment is different
Depending on the Form of leukemia, a specific treatment plan is drawn up. Most of the experts in one of the many haematological-oncological centres is happening at clinics.
Especially the treatment of acute leukemias as quickly. Because the functional immune cells are decreasing rapidly, the number of red blood cells and platelets is fading fast.
The Basis of the therapy of acute leukemia are:
- Chemotherapy and
- Radiation therapy
The chemotherapy is carried out in a stationary and partially on an outpatient basis. To be especially at the beginning of the treatment, cytotoxic drugs are given in high doses as an injection or tablets (induction therapy). In order to allow effects and side effects in an optimum ratio, is treated in intervals, later at longer intervals (consolidation therapy and maintenance therapy).
With radiation therapy, leukemia cells can be selectively destroyed in, for example, in malignant changes in the lymph nodes.
Only when these treatments are not hitting a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplantation can be considered. The treatment is costly, but often successful. Especially in the case of AML and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it is very effective.
What happens during bone marrow transplant:
A prerequisite of the matching donor. Only one third of leukemia patients ‘ siblings are also suitable. For this reason, and also because many people are single children, it is difficult to find a suitable donor. Here, for example, the German bone marrow donor file (DKMS) is involved.
Before the blood cells are transplanted, should be destroyed, the entire bone marrow of the patients, usually, as much as possible, so that no diseased cells to survive. This is done with a high-dose chemotherapy or irradiation. Then the Sick person receives a blood transfusion, the healthy blood stem cells. It usually takes only three weeks until the blood levels have normalized again.
Treatment of chronic leukemias
In the fight against CML, and CLL also cytotoxic drugs are used, however, in not so high doses against acute leukemias. Also, the active ingredients are less aggressive. The treatments are carried out regularly, again and again.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors for Chronic myeloid leukemia
For the treatment of CML, tyrosine kinase inhibitors include. The drugs block an enzyme that is exclusively formed by the leukemia cells. This can no longer share the degenerate cell in an uncontrolled manner. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are about
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors belong to a new class of cancer therapies, the so-called Targeted Therapies.
Often, patients need to take these drugs life long. Healing is therefore hardly possible. This opportunity exists in the case of chronic myeloid leukemia, often with a stem cell transplant.
The situation is different in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Patients often feel well and have no complaints. Then, only the blood values have to be checked, so that in the event that they worsen, therapy is begun. The options are then:
- Treatment with Alemtuzumab, a monoclonal antibody, the abnormal lymphocytes can die
Very promising, especially in the case of chronic myeloid leukemia such as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a new active ingredient group, BCL-2 inhibitors is. These substances stimulate selectively the apoptosis of the cancer cells in CLL. The first drug from this group, Venetoclax, is now approved in the US, in Germany, the approval has been requested in the first place.
In studies, the drug proved that it can reduce the number of sick blood cells. Venetoclax is simply taken orally and acts quickly. Another new approach to the immunotherapy, wherein the genetically modified T-attack cells, leukemia cells and destroy them.
Leukemia risk reduce, stop Smoking,
Against blood cancer can, to a certain degree to prevent. The following risk factors, you can avoid:
- Your radiation exposure should be as low as possible. You should also avoid too frequent x-ray, perform an x-ray pass.
- You don’t smoke. The chemical cocktail in tobacco smoke contains at least 250 toxic or carcinogenic substances, including benzene. Of this chemical is that it increases the risk of leukaemia.
- Avoid benzene and its derivatives. Benzene is included in motor gasoline and the exhaust gases. Also art and dyes can emit benzene. Again and again there are reports about benzene in foods and beverages.