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Blood is a living tissue made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts and protein whereas the solid part of the blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Blood disorders affect one or more parts of the blood and prevent the blood from doing its job. Many blood diseases are inherited and in a small percentage it may be a response to some sort of stress in the body. Blood diseases or sometimes known as blood disorders are different from blood-borne diseases. One of the major differences between a blood disease and a blood-borne disease is that blood diseases are not contagious. Certain people neglect the fact of getting themselves checked. Some of them even tend to question of the importance of getting themselves examine clinically. When something is wrong with the blood, it can affect a person's total health. They can be affected by many different types of blood conditions and blood cancers which are fatal. One of a kind is leukaemia .
What is leukaemia? It is actually a disease that begins in the soft, spongy part of the bone called bone marrow and it can occurs in both children and adults. According to Medical News Today, white blood cells are formed from the bone marrow and help the body to fight against infection. In leukaemia the DNA of the immature white blood cells becomes damaged hence causing the blood cells to grow and divide chaotically. Normal blood cells die after a while and are replaced by new cells which are produced in the bone marrow. The abnormal blood cells do not die so easily instead it starts to accumulate and occupy the space. When the blood plasma is occupied with these defective blood cellist, it creates insufficient space for the normal. These cells surround the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its job. In addition to that statistics had provided a better understanding of the disease and its impact. According to the American Cancer Society, an approximately 35,070 people in the United States was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. Based on statistics from 2000-2002, 1.27 per cent of men and 1 women in every 79 male are diagnosed with the disease at some time during their lifetime. This shows that male are more vulnerable to be diagnosed with leukaemia than female. This is further proven by The American Cancer Society which had estimated around 35,070 men and 15,070 women would be diagnosed with leukaemia in 2006 and would die of the disease during the year.
Furthermore, studies have found that there are few risk factors that may lead to leukaemia . According to CancerCompass, individuals who are exposed to very high levels of radiation are much more likely to develop leukaemia compared to others. Very high levels of radiation caused by atomic bomb explosions or even medical treatment that uses radiation can lead to acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic myeloid leukaemia, or acute lymphocytic leukaemia. People who works with certain type of chemicals especially high levels of benzene and formaldehyde are also at high risk of getting leukaemia. Besides benzene and formaldehyde, drugs known as alkylating agents which is type of cancer -fighting drugs used during chemotherapy session will also develop into leukaemia many years later. Not to be missed, smoking is also considered a risk factor that may cause acute myelogenous leukaemia. The carcinogens in cigarettes are absorbed by the lungs and travelled down the bloodstream. It is estimated that 1 in 4 cases of AML are caused by smoking as stated in About.com cancer. . However, there are ways to reduce the risk factor . Firstly, precautive measures should be taken while handling hazardous chemical substances for instance face mask and hand gloves should be worn all the time. This can prevent people from getting contact with this substance externally. Avoid one's self from inhaling too much of the gas released by this chemicals. Lastly, people should also avoid smoking habits as it is becoming one of the large cause of leukaemia. Not forgetting, non-smokers should as well prevent themselves from being a secondary smoker as it is more hazardous.
Besides that, leukaemia can be further divided into chronic and acute leukaemia based on how rapid the disease develops. Early in chronic leukaemia, the cells can still perform some of the work of normal white blood cells. Therefore, no significant symptoms is shown by the body in the early stage and it is difficult to detect unless a routine check-up is done. On the other hand, acute leukaemia can't perform any of the work of normal white blood cells as the number of leukaemia cells tend to increases rapidly. However, the symptoms shown by chronic and acute leukaemia are more less the same. When symptoms do appear, they are usually mild at first and get worse gradually. The most significant symptoms is that the individual will have bruise or they tend to bleed easily. They may also develop petechial which forms a small reddish spot on the body and will eventually take a longer time to heal. This is a result of poor ability of the blood to cloth. Besides that, certain people may have headaches, vomiting, confusion and loss of muscle control. This is a sign that their brain had been affected. Some of them may also have swollen lymph nodes that don't really hurt especially lymph nodes nearer to the neck and armpit. They may also get fever or night sweats very often since they can get infected easily.
In this day and age, due to the vast advances in the medical technology, there are numerous options to treat leukaemia. In relation to that, biological therapy is massively used in many countries . According to National Cancer Institute, this therapy uses the immune system to fight cancer and help to control the side effects of other cancer treatments. Natural drugs made from natural body substances are used to boost the body's own defences against illness. There are two forms of biological therapy used to treat leukaemia which are Monoclonal Antibodies and Interferon Alfa. Both are given by injection. Although there will be some side effects of these drugs but they will disappear once the treatment is finished. In some cases, medical team prefers watchful waiting. It is a treatment option that may be offered to people who have no symptoms. Watchful waiting is where the healthcare team will watch the leukaemia closely and the patient need to visit the doctor regularly for a physical examination. Other tests may be done from time to time. Active treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation, may also be considered if signs of leukaemia appear or change. Conjunction to that, chemotherapy is one of the ways to treat chronic and acute leukaemia. Since leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood, surgery can never be taken into consideration. Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill leukemic cells. The drugs target fast-dividing cells by disrupting critical parts of the cell cycle. Subsequently cancer cells divide faster than normal cells, more cancer cells than normal cells are killed. But of course, a significant number of normal cells are damaged and which will cause many side effects to the body. In that case, stem cell transplant is done although it's a very complex procedure. For this reason, stem cell transplants are done in specialized transplant centres or hospitals by a team of highly trained healthcare professionals.
In short, leukaemia is a diseases that can be effectively treated and some can be cured. Survival rates for leukaemia have risen dramatically in the last four decades due to improvements in treatment. However, diagnosis of leukaemia can be missed or delayed because some symptoms of leukaemia are similar to other conditions. Therefore, multiple and immediate check-ups are necessary if a person is feeling unwell. Treatment of leukaemia may also varies, depending on the specific type of leukaemia, the patient's age, health history, overall health status, and other factors.