Leukemia - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Leukemia is form of cancer that begins in tissue that forms blood. Normal white blood cells start as stem cells in bone marrow. Stem cells grow to become different types of white blood cells. If there is a type of stem cell that mutates its DNA, it will grow out cancerous cells of the variety they belong to.

The types of leukemia can be categorized into how quickly the disease develops. There is chronic leukemia, which grows slowly and changes slowly. There is also acute leukemia, which grows quickly and the patient deteriorates rapidly without treatment. Acute leukemia cells are nonfunctional cells as far as white cells go. They expend all their energy dividing.

Leukemia can also be grouped depending on the type of white cell affected. This means that leukemia can be separated into lymphoid cells or myeloid cells. Leukemia involving lymphoid cells is called lymphoblastic, lymphoid or lymphocytic leukemia. Leukemia involve myeloid cells is called myelogenous, myeloid, or myeloblastic leukemia. This leads to four main types of leukemia:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL. It grows very slowly and affect patients older than 55.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia. It grows slowly at first and then gets more active over time. It affects primarily adults.
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia or ALL. This affects lymphoid cells and grows more quickly. It is the most common type of leukemia in young children.
  • Acute myeloid leukemia or AML affects myeloid cells and grows out of control. It occurs in both children.

The leukemia cells travel throughout the body like regular white cells. The symptoms depend on where these cells collect in the body and on the number of cells involved. Chronic leukemia patients may have few or no symptoms and may be found only on routine blood testing.

People with acute leukemia feel sick and go to see their doctor. They may have vomiting, confusion, headaches, lack of muscle control, seizures or symptoms suggestive of involvement of the kidneys, digestive tract, lungs, heart and genitourinary tract.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Fevers or night sweats
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mass in the abdomen
  • Easy bruisability
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Frequent infections
  • Pain in bones and joints
  • Weight loss without trying

While these symptoms can be attributed to a number of things, if you have these symptoms, it is a good idea to see your doctor for further evaluation. The doctor will do a general physical examination and a complete blood cell count to see what the cells look like and how many abnormal cells there are. A bone marrow biopsy is the only way to know if the leukemia cells are residing in the bone marrow. A bone marrow aspirate is using a thick hollow needle to remove samples of bone marrow. A bone marrow biopsy uses a thick needle that is thick enough to get a piece of bone and some bone marrow.

Other tests used to help diagnose leukemia include:

  • Cytogenetics. This looks at the chromosomes of cells from blood samples, bone marrow, or lymph node samples. The test can show better what kind of leukemia you have.
  • Lumbar puncture or spinal tap. It allows the doctor to check for leukemia cells in the central nervous system.
  • Chest x-ray: this is a test to look for swollen lymph nodes or other chest disease.

There are several options for treatment. In some cases, there is watchful waiting as it chronic leukemia. There is chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy and stem cell transplant. Often, many different modalities are used. The choice of treatment depends on the type of leukemia, the person’s age, and the presence or absence of leukemia cells in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The goal of treatment is to make the symptoms go away and to destroy leukemia cells. This is called a remission. During a remission, the patient may need further treatment to prevent a relapse of the disease. This is also called maintenance therapy or consolidation therapy. With the latest treatment, many people with acute leukemia can be cured.

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