Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and the bone marrow, which is the soft spongy tissues located inside the bones that are responsible for making new blood cells. This type of cancer originates from white blood cells known as lymphoblasts, which are important for the proper functioning of your immune system. The disease is termed ‘acute’ because it grows rapidly and creates immature blood cells.
This type of acute leukemia mostly occurs in children but can affect adults as well. This disease initially affects your blood, and then spreads to other organs, such as the spleen, the lymph nodes, and the liver. Unlike other varieties of cancer, this does cause any tumors. This disease leads to dangerous symptoms as the blood count is decreased, and if treatment is not provided at the right time, the patient might not survive. But with timely treatment, the high success rate is observed.
The bone marrow present inside the bone are where all the blood cells of the body are produced. Stem cell produced by bone marrow can develop into red blood cells tasked with transporting oxygen throughout the body, platelets which inhibit bleeding, and white blood cells which act as a defense mechanism against infection.
The stem cells are not supposed to enter the bloodstream until they are fully formed, but in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the underdeveloped cells called blast cells to enter the bloodstream before being fully formed. The blast cells increase in number, reducing the number of platelets and red blood cells. This leads to symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, and excess bleeding, characteristic of anemia. These blast cells are not able to fight infections like white blood cells, thus leaving you vulnerable to diseases.
In most cases, no clear cause can be pointed out for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but mutations in genetically inherited proteins are said to enhance the chances of an individual getting this disease. Defects in certain chromosomes may also lead to this acute leukemia affecting the blood and the bone marrow.
Some people can get this disease while they are undergoing radiation therapy for some other form of cancer. X-rays performed before birth can also lead to a child developing this disease later on in their life. Exposure to toxic substances such as benzene, and getting your bone marrow transplanted due to some disease, also places you at a higher risk for developing leukemia disease. Individuals with genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, and those having siblings with leukemia belong to the high-risk group.
This leukemia cancer affects the cells of the immune system called T cells and B cells. B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia mostly affects children, originating in the bone marrow where new blood cells are produced. This cancer spreads fast and soon the bone marrow is unable to make normal blood cells. B lymphocites fight infection by producing antibodies, so when a child is affected by this disease, their immune system gets weaker, and they are more likely to fall sick from common diseases. T lymphocites helps the B lymphocites in producing antibodies, and these are the ones affected by T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The symptoms of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia are caused by the lack of healthy blood cells in the body. The patient may experience fatigue and fever. Loss of appetite and weight loss may be noticed, along with stomach pains, night sweat, and little red spots called petechiae, which can be noticed under the skin. Bone and joint ace are common symptoms, and the person might show paleness and enlarged lymph nodes in the underarms, groin, and neck.
Sometimes, the cancerous cells may spread to the central nervous system, and this can lead to symptoms related to the nervous system and the brain, such as dizziness, blurred vision, seizures, headaches, etc. A mediastinal mass may be noticed in some patients, while others may notice enlarged testicles, or swelling in the abdomen and lower limbs.
India is known for its sophisticated treatment procedure for this type of leukemia cancer. Indian medical professionals are well-trained and aware of the latest developments in the field of cancer treatment. If you notice symptoms of the disease, you should immediately get yourself checked by a general physician, who can then refer you to a cancer specialist if they suspect that you have cancer.
Children affected by this disease are usually treated via chemotherapy, where some powerful drugs are introduced into the system to kill the cells affected by cancer. The type of drugs that are used depends on the stage at which the cancer is in. The oncologist will fist see how the patient responds to initial treatments and set future treatment plans accordingly. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously, or it can be taken orally in the form of a pill.
Stem cell transplant is another option while treating this condition, used in case the disease is particularly aggressive in nature. Here, the cancer cells, along with the immune system cells, and those in the bone marrow are destroyed using radiation or chemotherapy. Then, healthy bone marrow received from a donor is introduced into the body.
India offers some of the most affordable treatment plans for leukemia disease. Furthermore, these treatment plans are much cheaper than in the Western countries, which sees many foreign nationals arrive at India seeking treatment.
The treatment success rate for Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is promising and 80-90% of adults manage to reach remission after receiving treatment. For 30-40% of individuals, cancer does not return, but some might experience a relapse. Sometimes the doctor would recommend that the patient goes through a post-remission program that is aimed at keeping cancer from returning.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a potentially deadly disease, and you should never ignore its signs and symptoms. If detected early, chances of cancer getting completely cured are higher.