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A background understanding of acute leukemia
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) is a blood and bone marrow cancer. It is acute because the disease progresses quickly, thus, creating immature cells. Similarly, acute lymphocytic leukemia also refers to acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most prevalent cancer type in children. Furthermore, this disease can also occur in adults. However, the cure chances are incredibly minimal. Accordingly, leukemia is cancer affecting the body’s blood-forming tissues like the lymphatic system and the bone marrow.
In addition, it also involves the white blood cells, which protect the body against infections. Additionally, acute lymphocytic leukemia starts in an individual’s bone marrow. For the same reason, leukemia cells attack the blood quickly. That is, these cells easily spread to other body parts, including the lymph nodes, spleen, and brain. Therefore, this condition requires substantial nursing management of leukemia to curb its fatality.
Acute leukemia symptoms
Acute leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow. It is sensitive because it spreads quickly, resulting in immature blood cells instead of mature ones. In addition, acute leukemia can affect anybody; however, it is prevalent among children. The good news is that children have a higher survival chance if it is detected early.
Unfortunately, the survival chances in adults are low. In acute lymphocytic leukemia, “lymphocytic” refers to the white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are mostly affected. Equally important, it is a common type of cancer in children; however, children have higher survival chances because they respond to treatment. On the other hand, survival chances in adults are low because they do not respond to treatments. The following are some of the acute leukemia symptoms:
- Frequent infections
- Bone pain
- Lumps caused by swollen lymph nodes in and around armpits, abdomen, or groin
- Pale skin
- Weakness, fatigue, or a general decrease in energy
- Severe nose bleed
- Bleeding gums
- Breathing difficulties
Acute myeloid leukemia
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a blood and bone marrow cancer. It is the most prevalent type of acute leukemia in adults. This cancer type usually gets worse rapidly if not treated. In adults suffering from AML, the bone marrow makes a significant quantity of abnormal blood cells. Similarly, leukemia can affect red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Its signs include feeling exhausted, fever, and bleeding. The bone marrow is known for making immature cells that mature over time. A blood stem cell can become a lymphoid cell, developing into a white blood cell.
Acute myeloid leukemia stages
When you have cancer, you can find out the stage of the disease. Tumor growth and development facilitate the determination of each stage of a cancer infection. Leukemia is a blood cancer that does not cause tumors to form. As a result, its staging relies on the quantity of cancerous white blood cells circulating in the body. In most cases, acute myeloid leukemia begins in your bone marrow.
Thus, it is the dominant type of leukemia. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) snowballs in your entire bloodstream. Health care professionals do not stage AML. Therefore, they group it into subtypes determined by looking at the maturity of the leukemia cells and their origin in your body. The French-American-British (FAB) system helps to divide AML into subtypes as follows:
- M0:undifferentiated acute myeloblastic leukemia
- M1:acute myeloblastic leukemia with minimal maturation
- M2:acute myeloblastic leukemia with maturation
- M3:acute promyelocytic leukemia
- M4:acute myelomonocytic leukemia
- M4 eos: acute myelomonocytic leukemia with eosinophilia
- M5:acute monocytic leukemia
- M6:acute erythroid leukemia
- M7:acute megakaryoblastic leukemia
Types of leukemia
Leukemia continues to gain researchers’ and students’ attention since it is a new development. There are four primary types of leukemia, as discussed below.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
This is the prevalent type of leukemia. It usually begins in the bone marrow and affects both children and adults. It rapidly progresses in the body as new white blood cells if not treated promptly. AML is the worst type of leukemia because it is fast developing. It is also the most severe because it is fast-developing among adults.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
It is a type of leukemia that rapidly spreads, causing healthy immune cells to turn into cancerous white blood cells. ALL is rampant in children.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
It is rampant in adults aged 55 and above. It alters an infected person’s immune cells; however, its progress is not rapid.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
Chronic myelogenous leukemia originates from an individual’s bone marrow and progresses more slowly than AML. It is also more prevalent in adults.
Simple ways to test for leukemia at home
Unfortunately, there are no simple ways to test leukemia at home. A simple test for leukemia is a blood test. A medical doctor can look at a sample of your blood to ascertain if you have abnormal levels of red, white blood cells or platelets, which may help in determining if you have leukemia. A blood test can also disclose the presence of leukemia cells; however, not all types of leukemia cause the leukemia cells to circulate in the blood.
Most people come online and search how to test for leukemia at home; however, most of these strategies can only be indicative. As a result, they cannot be used to diagnose leukemia. Therefore, the recommended approach to ascertain if you have leukemia is medical procedures.
Leukemia blood count results
When you go to a hospital, the doctor will conduct a complete blood count (CBC) to determine if you have leukemia. The test helps disclose if you have leukemia cells. The abnormal levels of white blood cells and abnormally low red blood cell or platelet counts cause it. If the tests reveal that you are positive for leukemia, your doctor will conduct a biopsy of your bone marrow to know the leukemia type you are suffering from. This is critical in determining the appropriate treatment methods. However, the treatment type depends on the following:
- General health
- Type of leukemia
In most cases, you can receive multiple treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, and stem cell transplantation. Leukemia patients usually undergo chemotherapy because it targets fast-dividing cells. Acute leukemia patients have higher chances of positively responding to treatments. Contrariwise, in chronic leukemia, the cells divide more slowly.
Acute leukemia treatment stages
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) treatment depends on a person’s age, overall condition at diagnosis, and cytogenetic testing results. The standard therapy for this type of leukemia has changed slightly over the past decade; however, treatment objectives remain to cure. It can be divided into four stages, as discussed below:
The first phase entails induction chemotherapy
Drugs like daunorubicin, vincristine, prednisone, and cyclophosphamide facilitate induction chemotherapy. Intensive supportive care is also crucial in this stage. The primary intensive supportive care utilized is red blood cells and platelet transfusion. It aims at restoring blood count to normalcy.
The second phase is consolidation chemotherapy
This phase includes multiple cycles of intensive chemotherapy given within 6 to 9 months. In this stage, patients require regular hospitalization coupled with intensive supportive care. The same chemotherapy agents used in induction apply to this stage.
After intensive chemotherapy, patients take oral chemotherapy pills for approximately two years. The tablets have minimal side effects. In addition, this stage requires routine blood checks as they take oral medicines.
Central Nervous System (CNS) prophylaxis
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia can recur in the spinal fluid. Thus, to curb relapse at this point, chemotherapy should be injected directly into the fluid that bathes the spinal column. In most cases, patients receive roughly six injections of intrathecal chemotherapy to curb ALL’s recurrence.
What the stages involve
Induction chemotherapy and consolidation chemotherapy utilize intensive chemotherapy to destroy leukemia cells that proliferate ultimately. The complete therapy sessions can take at least two to three years. Approximately 90 percent of patients attain a complete remission. In addition, 25 to 40 percent survive the infection. On the other hand, about 5 percent of patients succumb to treatment-related complications during the initial therapeutic stages, while an additional 5 percent fail to achieve an initial remission.
Crucial concepts to consider to understand Leukemia
Generally, acute lymphocytic leukemia starts in the bone marrow. As a result, to gain a better understanding of this condition, it remains imperative to have a detailed understanding of the blood and the associated lymph system. These include:
First, bone marrow is the soft inner part of a particular cell comprising blood-forming cells, supporting tissues, and other fat cells. Routinely, blood stem cells inside the bone marrow undergo various changes to form new blood cells: however, these cells develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets during this process.
Red blood cells
Red blood cells play an integral role in the human body since they transport oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues. Similarly, the red blood cells also eliminate carbon dioxide from the lungs.
Platelets refer to cell fragments encompassing a particular type of bone marrow. Simultaneously, platelets are pertinent in plugging holes in blood vessels caused by bruises. Basically, we know platelets as the blood cells responsible for blood clotting.
White blood cells
White blood cells offer defense to the body. First, they play a crucial role in helping the body fight infections. Further, we have different types of white blood cells. These include lymphocytes, granulocytes, and monocytes. Lymphocytes are the primary cells making up the lymph tissue. Likewise, they encompass the most significant part of the body’s immune system: lymphocytes develop from lymphoblast cells to mature and infection-fighting cells.
Secondly, granulocytes are white blood cells with granules. These granules have enzymes and other elements that can destroy germs and bacteria. Finally, we have monocytes that safeguard the human body against bacteria. Accordingly, monocytes circulate in the bloodstream for approximately 24 hours before entering body tissues to destroy germs.
Causes of acute leukemia
Acute lymphocytic leukemia begins in the bone marrow. Hence, the disease occurs immediately after the bone marrow cells mutate in their genetic material. Typically, the DNA instructs the cell in various instances. For example, it instructs cells to grow and denature at particular times. Evidently, in acute lymphocytic leukemia, mutations inform the cells within the bone marrow cell to continue growing and dividing.
So, when this happens, blood cell production becomes uncontrollable. Likewise, the bone marrow releases immature cells that develop into lymphoblasts. On the contrary, these cells cannot function effectively. As a result, they multiply and overpower healthy cells. However, knowing what causes DNA mutations that eventually result in acute lymphocytic leukemia remains uncertain. The good news is that our expert writers have an in-depth understanding of this course. For example, we can help you with a nursing care plan for leukemia and other assignments.
Risk factors associated with acute leukemia
Various factors can exacerbate the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia. These risk factors include:
- Radiation exposure is the first risk factor since individuals exposed to extreme radiation are susceptible to acute leukemia. For example, nuclear reactor accident survivors. Accordingly, these individuals have a high risk of having acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Past cancer treatment is another risk factor for acute lymphocytic leukemia. First, children and adults with exposure to different chemotherapy and radiation therapies may have an increased risk of developing the disease
- Genetic disorders like down syndrome increase the risks of acute lymphocytic leukemia
Types of leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a malignant disease of the bone marrow where lymphoid precursors increase and replace other cells. The disease affects the blood-forming tissues, such as the bone marrow and lymphatic system. There exist different types of leukemia, which include the following:
- Chronic leukemia involves mature blood cells which replicate gradually while still functioning normally. This type of leukemia does not show early symptoms and can go unnoticed for a longer duration
- Acute leukemia occurs due to the immaturity of abnormal blood cells. In most cases, these blood cells cannot execute their routine functions; however, they continue multiplying rapidly. This makes the disease worsen within a shorter period
- Lymphocytic leukemia affects the lymphoid cells forming the lymphatic tissue encompassing a person’s immune system
- Myelogenous leukemia affects myeloid cells. The primary role of the myeloid cells is to give rise to red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells producing cells
The classification types are based on how fast the disease spreads to other body parts.
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