Leukemia in Kenya: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment


Leukemia in Kenya: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the primary(early) blood building cells and the bone marrow(a soft spongy tissue found in the canal of bones that produces blood cells). It majorly affects the white blood cells.

Leukemia causes abnormal multiplication of the affected cells.These abnormal cells that don't function or doesn't function properly later outnumbers the normal function blood cells leading to deficiency in their services to the body.

Symptoms of Leukemia

It doesn't have well defined/specific symptoms hence can easily be missed at it's initial stages. 

Some of the symptoms that may present are as follows- headache, excessive night sweats, fever alternating with chills, weight loss, fatigue, recurrent episodes of infection, easy bleeding/bruising and bone pain/tenderness.

Risk factors for Leukemia

There is no known cause for this condition scientifically however there are certain factors that have shown positive increased risk for it's development such as follows:

A positive family history of leukemia, certain genetic disorders e.g Down Syndrome, previous cancer treatments, exposure to certain industrial chemicals e.g benzene and smoking.

Classification of Leukemia

It is classified based on it's rate of progression and based on the cells type involved as follows:

Based on the rate of progression

  • Acute leukemia which consists of immature cells which divide at a high rate.
  • Chronic leukemia: it's cells are slightly matured and the rate of progression is low.

Based on the cells type involved

  • Lymphocytic/lymphoblastic leukemia: this affects lyphoid/lymphocytes which are cells that constitutes the immune system.
  • Myelogenous/myeloid leukemia: this affects myeloid cells which serves to give rise to red and white blood cells/platelets producing cells.

Types of Leukemia

  1. Acute lymphocytic leukemia(ALL)-: It's common in pediatrics but can also affect adults.
  2. Acute myelogenous leukemia(AML): it's a common type of leukemia generally.It affects both pediatrics/adults but it's more common among the adults.
  3. Chronic Lymphocytic(CLL): it's the common chronic leukemia in adults.Symptom take a long time before presenting.
  4. Chronic Myelogenous leukemia(CML): Mainly affects adults, presents with a few symptoms or none for a prolonged period of time before they manifest.

Diagnosis of Leukemia

This will be arrived at by taking the patient's history and examining him/her then based on their state some of the following diagnostic tests/imaging may be done- complete blood count, blood smear, bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap: CT- scan and MRI.

Treatment of Leukemia

This will be determined by the patient's general well-being/disease stage.Some of the options that may be adopted includes- chemotherapy, radiation, biologic therapy,stem cell transplant and surgery.

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