What is Leukemia? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Leukemia is a type of cancer formed in the blood cells. There are different categories of blood cells like platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Leukemia is caused when a body produces more white blood cells (WBCs) than usual, crowding out the platelets and red blood cells (RBCs).
Each blood cell category has a role in your body, and WBCs are supposed to protect you from bacteria, abnormal cells, fungi, viruses, and foreign substances. They are crucial for the natural immune system and fight unwanted bacteria in your body. However, leukemia prevents the normal function of WBCs, eventually affecting the other blood cells and the overall health.
What are the Symptoms of Leukemia
WBCs are generally produced in the bone marrow, but some cells are also produced in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus gland. When someone has leukemia, their body produces an excess of WBCs in all these areas, especially the bone marrow.
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of leukemia and its stage. Some of the early stage symptoms may look like this:
- Sudden, unintentional weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes, usually in the armpits and neck, with no pain
- Swollen organs like the spleen or liver
- Extreme weakness or fatigue which doesn't go away even after adequate rest
- Night sweats (sweating excessively at night)
- Frequently feeling out of breath
- Severe or persistent infections
- Fever or chills
- Bones or joints pain, tenderness
- Bleeding or bruising easily
- Headaches or seizures
In some cases, the cancer cells spread to other body parts, such as the central nervous system, which may cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, seizures, and loss of muscle control. It can also spread to the lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys.
DNA is an integral part of our body; one of its functions is to instruct the cells on what to do. For example, it tells white blood cells when to form, grow (at which rate) and die, according to the body's needs. Leukemia occurs when there are mutations in the DNA of the blood cells. Therefore, the white blood cells continue forming, growing, and dividing irrespective of the body's needs due to the mutations in their DNA.
Consequently, blood cell production gets out of control, and they overcrowd the healthy blood cells. Now a body has more unhealthy (cancer) cells in bone marrow (and other organs where WBCs are produced) than healthy cells such as RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. In leukemia, there aren't enough RBCs to supply oxygen in the body, WBCs to fight infections, and platelets to clot the blood.
Scientists are still looking for the exact cause of leukemia, but certain things may trigger it, such as:
- If someone in your family had leukemia
- If you had some other type of cancer and had chemo or radiation therapy
- If you smoke
- If you're exposed to harmful chemicals and radiation frequently
- If you have a genetic disorder such as Down syndrome
Classification of Leukemia
Leukemia is classified into two groups, depending on how fast it develops (first group) and which blood cells it affects (second group).
In the first group, there are acute leukemia and chronic leukemia. Acute leukemia spreads and worsens very fast, and most cancer cells don't mature or carry out any function. In chronic leukemia, not all cells are immature and carry out their normal function. It gets bad gradually as compared to acute forms.
In the second group, there is lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia. Lymphocytic leukemia affects the white blood cells in the bone marrow, becoming lymphocytes, whereas Myelogenous leukemia affects the RBCs, WBCs, and platelets in the marrow.
Learn more: The Effects of Leukemia on the Body and Ways of Treatment
How Leukemia is Diagnosed and Treated
Most times, people consider the early symptoms of leukemia as cold, flu, or any usual infection. The blood tests can tell the maturity of blood cells and the presence of unusual or immature cells. For a proper leukemia diagnosis, your doctor will perform different tests such as bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap, and imaging tests.
These tests tell what kind of leukemia a person has, where it has spread, how severe it is, etc. Depending on the affected person's diagnosis and current health state, medical professionals offer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, surgery, biological therapy, and stem cell transplant.
Due to the adverse side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, scientists are always looking for alternative ways of therapy or minimizing the side effects. Research suggests that natural remedies like consuming a medicinal mushroom called Agaricus blazei murill have helped people with leukemia and chemotherapy.
What is Agaricus Blazei Mushroom & How it Helps in Leukemia?
Agaricus blazei murill is a medicinal mushroom with anti-tumor, anti-mutagenic, immunomodulating, and antioxidant activities. It has been used in many countries for centuries as a natural remedy for chemotherapy and to prevent severe diseases like cancer.
One research found out that people who took a daily intake of these mushrooms experienced improved management of chronic myeloid leukemia. Another study shows that consuming Agaricus mushrooms can decrease the side effects of chemotherapy. Although these studies are in their preliminary stages, the results are positive.
At ABM Tea, we offer tea granules of Agaricus mushroom that people can drink easily as herbal tea. Our products are of premium quality, made with pure fruiting bodies of mushrooms. Place your order now or contact us for details.