Leukemia is a type of cancer that is found in the blood, which begins in the center of the bone where the bone marrow is. There are four main types of leukemia. They are acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia. Acute leukemia moves fast and makes the patient feel very sick immediately. Chronic leukemia starts out slowly and the patient may not feel sick for several years.
It is not known exactly what causes leukemia, but it seems that people who have been exposed to high levels of radiation are at a higher risk. Smoking also increases the risk. People with down syndrome seem to have a higher level of risk as do people with certain blood disorders, such as myelodysplastric syndrome.
Leukemia cancer cells travel through the body with the blood stream. Some people who have chronic leukemia may not experience any symptoms and may not know they even have it until a doctor finds it during a routine blood test. Symptoms of leukemia include fever, bone pain, swollen belly from an enlarged spleen, swollen lymph nodes, weakness and fatigue.
Treatment for leukemia includes chemotherapy, radiation treatment, stem cell transplant and biological therapy. The patient will return to his doctor for regular checkups, which will include blood tests and possibly a bone marrow aspiration or spinal tap. He should follow a healthy diet program and try to live a healthy lifestyle, including plenty of activity such as walking.
The prognosis is good for the future of people who are in remission from leukemia, but they will need to be mindful of lifestyle choices and see their doctor regularly.