Patient discussion about leukemia

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Q. What is Leukemia?

My brother's best friend has been diagnosed with Leukemia. What is it? Is it dangerous? Can you recover from it?
A1Leukemia is the general name for four different types of blood cancers. In people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. At first, leukemia cells function almost normally. In time, they may crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This makes it hard for blood to do its work. After diagnosis, many people with leukemia do survive and live many good, quality years. The relative five-year survival rate has more than tripled in the past 47 years for patients with leukemia. In 1960-63, when compared to a person without leukemia, a patient had a 14 percent chance of living five years. By 1975-77, the five year relative survival rate had jumped to 35 percent, and in 1996-2003 the overall relative survival rate was nearly 50 percent.
A2I found a video that explains what is Leukemia that will interest you:
http://www.5min.com/Video/What-is-Leukemia-7256

Q. What causes Leukemia?

How can one get Leukemia?
A1Not all the causes of leukemia are known. However there are some causes that are suspected. Nowadays as the pollution is increasing and use of chemicals in various parts of life has increased, people who come in contact with toxic chemicals, radiations etc. are at greater risk of developing leukemia, hereditary also plays a role at some extent.
A2No one knows the exact causes of leukemia. Doctors can seldom explain why one person gets this disease and another does not. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop leukemia. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. Studies have found the following risk factors for leukemia: *Very high levels of radiation —People exposed to very high levels of radiation are much more likely than others to develop leukemia. *Working with certain chemicals—Exposure to high levels of benzene in the workplace can cause leukemia. Benzene is used widely in the chemical industry. Formaldehyde is also used by the chemical industry. Workers exposed to formaldehyde also may be at greater risk of leukemia. *Chemotherapy—Cancer patients treated with certain cancer-fighting drugs sometimes later develop leukemia. For the full article: http://www.medicinenet.com/leukemia/page3.htm Hope this helps.


A3No one knows what causes leukemia. Researchers have strong suspicions about four possible causes, however. They are radiation, chemicals, viruses, and genetic factors.

Q. Is Leukemia hereditary?

My Grandpa died of Leukemia when he was 50. I am worried that it might be hereditary. Is it?
A1Overall leukemia is not hereditary but there are rare reports of family clusters, that is, more than one case in a family. Therefore, you should consult your Doctor and tell him about your family's medical history.
A2Leukemia tends to occur in some families more commonly than in others. This suggests that at least some forms of leukemia may be hereditary.

Q. Is leukemia contagious?

A friend of mine got leukemia (blood cancer), can I get it from him if he bleeds and I touch the blood? Like HIV I mean.
A1No, you don't have to be afraid, no chance of that. Your friend will need you to pass this terrible illness. So I recommend learning a bit about leukemia so you understand it better and won't avoid your friend.
You can get information on those 2 sites:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/leukemia/DS00351

http://library.thinkquest.org/C006095/root/glossary.htm
A2You can relax ? , you can not get Leukemia from another person. In fact even if you get blood transfusion from your friend and nothing will happen to you (unless he has a different blood type..). you can get leukemia if you are exposed to carcinogenic materials, radiation and Genetic abnormalities.

Q. How many types of childhood leukemia are there?

My friend's 3 year old son, Jacob, was just diagnosed with Leukemia. I haven't been able to talk to her as she is with him in the hospital - he is starting chemo today. I just wondered how many types are there and which ones are most likely curable? Thank you!
A1ALL is the most common in children and most cureable in them.
AML is less common in children, and harder to get rid of in them.

There are several varieties of both, but those are the two general categories.

CML is very rare in children.

See the leukemia/lymphoma society website for excellent information about them all:
http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=7026
A2Leukemias are classified into acute (rapidly developing) and chronic (slowly developing) forms. In children, about 98% of leukemias are acute.
Acute childhood leukemias are also divided into:
1.Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
2.Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
This depends on whether specific white blood cells called lymphyocytes (or myelocytes), which are linked to immune defenses, are involved.
Approximately 60% of children with leukemia have ALL, and about 38% have AML. Although slow-growing chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) may also be seen in children, it is very rare.
With the proper treatment, the outlook for kids who are diagnosed with leukemia is quite good. Some forms of childhood leukemia have a remission rate of up to 90%; all children then require regular maintenance chemotherapy and other treatment to continue to be cancer-free. Overall cure rates differ depending on the specific features of a child's disease.

Q. Will my hair fall off if I have leukemia?

I was diagnosed with ALL and I have to pass on a series of chemotherapy treatments, will my hair fall off? What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
A1Sorry but Yes. Most chemotherapy drugs that will be used do have the side effect of hair loss. However, this will only be temporary and your hair will grow back, probably even better than before! This is just a minor setback, not to be concerned about it..
A2Chemotherapy has many side effects and one of them is hair loss. This is because the medications attack cells that divide at a fast rate, such as hair cells, blood cells and mucosal cells. Therefore the other side effects you can expect are gastrointestinal- nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, general malaise and fatigue- because of bone marrow depression (and anemia), and a higher risk of developing infections. Specific chemotherpeutic agents have other specific side effects (damage to nerve endings, kidney problems and more).

Q. what are the symptoms of leukemia? and what effective treatment is available for it that increase survival

chances ?
ALeukemia isn't one disease but rather a group of many diseases. The major types are acute and chronic myeloid and acute and chronic lymphoblastic leukemias.

The signs and symptoms may vary, but usually result from deficiency of the normal blood cells due to the influence of the leukemic (actually malignant) cells. Therefore patients may suffer from superficial bleeding (due to deficiency of platelets), weakness and pallor due to anemia (deficiency of red blood cells) and infections due to deficiency of white blood cells.

Other signs and symptoms may include enlargement of the spleen and liver, fatigue, anorexia and weight loss, enlargement of lymph nodes, headache, sweating and fever.

The treatment depends on the specific type of leukemia, but generally includes chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation from a donor.

You may read more here:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/leukemiaadultacute.html
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