As a terminal illness, cancer is frightening no matter what form it takes. This doesn’t mean, however, that each form of cancer is equally as deadly. Leukemia is known to be one of the most life-threatening forms of cancer out there, and with a new victim being diagnosed every three minutes, it is also one of the more rampant.
In fact, there are more than 1.3 million victims of some form of Leukemia in the United States at present. While anyone can fall victim to Leukemia, very few people are actually screened for this form of cancer. Let’s take a look at some of the early warning signs of this serious disease so that you know what to keep a lookout for.
What Is Leukemia?
While this type of cancer often forms as a result of a victims’ genetic predisposition to the disease, it can also develop in people who experience a high volume of exposure to toxins such as arsenic, benzene, BPA, and formaldehyde. Leukemia primarily affects the bone marrow and other blood-forming tissues of the body.
There are four different types of Leukemia, namely:
- Chronic Lymphocytic leukemia – this form is known to usually affect children.
- Lymphoblastic leukemia – this form tends to affect adults over the age of 55.
- Acute myelogenous leukemia – this form of the disease is regularly found in both children and adults alike
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia – this form of leukemia is known to primarily affect adults
While these are the four main categories of leukemia, oncologists will sort each patients’ leukemia into further subtypes upon diagnosis. The exact classification of each specific case of leukemia will be determined by whether the patient has a chronic or acute form of the disease, as well as the pace at which the disease is spreading.
No matter what form of leukemia you may have, it is best to seek medical treatment as soon as possible in order to have the widest possible range of treatments available.
Spotting the Symptoms of Leukemia
The slower the form of leukemia takes to spread, the more difficult it becomes to spot the early warning signs. Only in cases where the leukemia is fast-growing will the following symptoms become more noticeable:
- A Sudden Fever: your body will raise its temperature as a form of defense when foreign bodies are detected. This is normally done in response to an infection or virus. In the case of leukemia, however, the fever will likely persist on a daily basis.
- A Rash: this takes the form of a number of tiny red bumps on your skin, and is a common early warning sign of leukemia.
- Being Easily Bruised: while bruises are normally incurred from injuries such as a bad fall, bruises could be caused by lighter interactions when suffering from leukemia. Because this disease can occur at any age, parents should regularly check their children for bruises that do not seem likely to have aroused from falling or rough play.
- Swollen Lymph Nodes: when suffering from leukemia, victims’ lymph nodes will remain swollen for months at a time. Remaining swollen over an extended period may indicate that you are suffering from more than just a common cold.
Treatment Options for Leukemia
While there are a number of treatments available, treating this form of cancer is never easy. The types of treatments that are available to you will depend on your diagnosis as well as the prognosis that your oncologist has formed pertaining to your specific case.
- Chemotherapy – This treatment involves taking a drug or combination of drugs via pill or injection in order to kill leukemia cells. Chemotherapy is not just the most common treatment for leukemia, but one of the more prominent cancer treatment options at large.
- Targeted Therapy – This means regularly taking Leukemia-targeting drugs that are able to attack vulnerable cancer cells.
- Radiation – A treatment whereby x-rays are used to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Radiation is one of the more common cancer treatments and can be used together with other treatments or on its own. With radiation, you have the option of targeting a specific area or treating the entire body.
- Stem Cell Transplant – This new and upcoming treatment uses stem cells to build new bone marrow, thereby replacing the existing, cancerous bone marrow. Stem cell transplants are relatively new to the world of cancer treatments and are still rarely used.
Because of the constant developments being made in the field of medical research, new treatment options are constantly being discovered. If you are diagnosed with leukemia, your doctor will determine your prognosis and devise a strategy to respond to this disease. Take this time to inform yourself about the different forms of treatment available so that you know what lies in store.
The Bottom Line
While potentially receiving sad news may deter you from visiting the doctor, it is best that you go as soon as possible. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin – not to mention more treatment options will be available to you.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs, consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Make sure that you are aware of the latest research, and compare 3 or 4 options before deciding on a treatment. Much of this information is readily available online.