What is Leukemia

The term Leukemia is more common and covers a broad range of diseases. More specifically stating, it covers a much broader group of diseases that are specific to the bone marrow and more specifically the lymphoid system and are collectively referred to as the hematological neoplasms. It was in the year 2000 that approximately 250,000 children and adults inclusive, all over the world developed some form of leukemia and nearly 200,000 died from the disease. About 90% of all the types of leukemia are diagnosed in adults.

Clinically, there are different groups and types that are present. At first, the disease is divided based on the severity into acute and the chronic types. Acute form of leukemia is characterized by an increase in the overall population of the immature or unhealthy blood cells mainly WBC(White Blood Cells). This overproduction leads to a rapid halt of the healthy marrow cells and thus, the bone is unable to produce normal blood cells. The acute form of leukemia demands immediate treatment and recovery, as there is a rapid increase in the production and the accumulation of cancerous cells, which have a greater potential to spread to the other locations of the body. This is one of the most common forms of leukemia in children.

Chronic form of leukemia, although similar to the acute form, refers to the rapid buildup of relatively mature, yet abnormal cells that are characteristic of the leukemia types. This type of leukemia takes months or years to progress and thus results in the production of many abnormal white blood cells. This form of leukemia are to be treated immediately, whereas other chronic types are to be monitored and then deliver the maximum extent of possible therapy. Although chronic type of leukemia occurs in adults, there are other chronic types that may occur in any age group. The other sect or division of leukemias is based on the type of cell that is affected.

In such a case, there are two types that can be subdivided again. The lymphoblastic and the myeloid or the myelogenous leukemias. In the lymphoblastic type, the progression towards cancer occurs in a type or marrow cell that passes from the lymphocytes to that of the infection-fighting systems. Mostly, the lymphocyctic types involve a specific cell type such as the B-cell. On the other hand, in the myeloid type of leukemias, the cancerous origin occurs in the marrow cell and then progresses towards the red blood cells and then to a few types of white blood cells and the platelets are involved as well.

The causes for this disease are still undetermined. A few of the general factors exist but how they exactly influence the progression of the disease is yet to be determined. The different types of leukemias are said to progress with different types of causes. However, generally, leukemia, unlike the other types of cancer result due to the mutation from the DNA. Certain types of mutations lead to the activation of the oncogenes or the tumor suppressing genes and thus result in the irregular proliferation of cells, which leads to a greater part of cell death, impairment of cell division and differentiation. In few cases, these mutations could have arisen spontaneously or also due to the exposure to radiation or carcinogens.

Despite the various factors that involve the cause of leukemias, the mode of therapy and treatment, to a larger extent depends on the progression of the disease and the well being of the individual.

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