Acute leukemia is a form of cancer that affects the white blood cells. It can present in many forms such as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), which is very common in children, especially 2-5 years of age; Acute Myelogenic Leukemia (AML), and Acute Non-Lymphatic Leukemia (ANLL). This article shares a brief overview of the symptoms to look for as well as the causes, diagnosis and treatment options associated with this disease.
Symptoms – A man, woman or child with this condition may experience a constant tired feeling that can be accompanied with a low fever, anemia, pale skin, general ill feeling, easily bruised skin, and/or frequent nose bleeds or bleeding gums. Other possible symptoms include abdominal pain with an enlarged spleen, and infections with sores in the mouth.
Causes – The cause of this form of cancer is unknown, but risk of contracting the disease increases with a family history, Down Syndrome, or other congenital disorders, identical twins, or exposure to toxic chemicals.
Diagnosis – The first indication of a problem is typically an observation of the aforementioned symptoms. A physical exam with studies of the blood, bone marrow, or cerebral spinal fluid should follow to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases certain x-rays or CT scans may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment – Proper treatment of acute leukemia may include blood or platelet transfusions, anticancer medication and radiation treatments. A bone marrow transplant may be necessary in some cases. A physician may also prescribe cortisone drugs and pain relievers (except aspirin) to help a patient deal with symptoms.
Acute leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells that can affect children and adults depending on the type of cancer. If treatment is successful and a patient goes into remission, there will be an ongoing need for check-ups to be certain it does not return.