Leukemia, a form of cancer of the blood or bone marrow

Leukemia or leukaemia (from the Greek leukos – white, and haima – blood) is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of white blood cells. Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases called hematological neoplasms. Worldwide, around 350,000 people were diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. About 90% of all leukemias are diagnosed in adults.

Clinically and pathologically, leukemia is subdivided into a variety of large groups. The first division is between its acute and chronic forms:

Acute leukemia is characterized by a rapid increase in the numbers of immature blood cells. Crowding due to such cells makes the bone marrow unable to produce healthy blood cells. Immediate treatment is required in acute leukemia due to the rapid progression and accumulation of the malignant cells, which then spill over into the bloodstream and spread to other organs of the body. Acute forms of leukemia are the most common forms of leukemia in children. Chronic leukemia is characterized by the excessive build up of relatively mature, but still abnormal, white blood cells. Typically taking months or years to progress, the cells are produced at a much higher rate than normal cells, resulting in many abnormal white blood cells in the blood. Whereas acute leukemia must be treated immediately, chronic forms are sometimes monitored for some time before treatment to ensure maximum effectiveness of therapy. Chronic leukemia mostly occurs in older people, but can theoretically occur in any age group.

Additionally, the diseases are subdivided according to which kind of blood cell is affected. This split divides leukemias into lymphoblastic or lymphocytic leukemias and myeloid or myelogenous leukemias: In lymphoblastic or lymphocytic leukemias, the cancerous change takes place in a type of marrow cell that normally goes on to form lymphocytes, which are infection-fighting immune system cells. Most lymphocytic leukemias involve a specific subtype of lymphocyte, the B cell. In myeloid or myelogenous leukemias, the cancerous change takes place in a type of marrow cell that normally goes on to form red blood cells, some other types of white cells, and platelets.

Combining these two classifications provides a total of four main categories. Within these main categories, there are typically eight subcategories. Finally, some rarer types are usually considered to be outside of this classification scheme. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia in young children. This disease also affects adults, especially those age 65 and older. Standard treatments involve chemotherapy and radiation. The survival rates vary by age: 85% in children and 50% in adults. Subtypes include precursor B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, precursor T acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Burkitt’s leukemia, and acute biphenotypic leukemia. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) most often affects adults over the age of 55. It sometimes occurs in younger adults, but it almost never affects children. Two-thirds of affected people are men. The five-year survival rate is 75%. It is incurable, but there are many effective treatments. One subtype is B-cell prolymphocytic leukemia, a more aggressive disease. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) occurs more commonly in adults than in children, and more commonly in men than women. AML is treated with chemotherapy. The five-year survival rate is 40%. Subtypes of AML include acute promyelocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia. Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) occurs mainly in adults. A very small number of children also develop this disease. Treatment is with imatinib (Gleevec in US, Glivec in Europe) or other drugs. The five-year survival rate is 90%. One subtype is chronic monocytic leukemia. Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is sometimes considered a subset of CLL, but does not fit neatly into this pattern. About 80% of affected people are adult men. There are no reported cases in young children. HCL is incurable, but easily treatable. Survival is 96% to 100% at ten years. T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) is a very rare and aggressive leukemia affecting adults; somewhat more men than women are diagnosed with this disease. Despite its overall rarity, it is also the most common type of mature T cell leukemia; nearly all other leukemias involve B cells. It is difficult to treat, and the median survival is measured in months. Large granular lymphocytic leukemia may involve either T-cells or NK cells; like hairy cell leukemia, which involves solely B cells, it is a rare and indolent (not aggressive) leukemia. Adult T-cell leukemia is caused by human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), a virus similar to HIV. Like HIV, HTLV infects CD4+ T-cells and replicates within them; however, unlike HIV, it does not destroy them. Instead, HTLV “immortalizes” the infected T-cells, giving them the ability to proliferate abnormally.

No single known cause for all of the different types of leukemia exists. The known causes, which are not generally factors within the control of the average person, account for relatively few cases. The different leukemias likely have different causes. Leukemia, like other cancers, results from somatic mutations in the DNA. Certain mutations produce leukemia by activating oncogenes or deactivating tumor suppressor genes, and thereby disrupting the regulation of cell death, differentiation or division. These mutations may occur spontaneously or as a result of exposure to radiation or carcinogenic substances, and are likely to be influenced by genetic factors. Among adults, the known causes are natural and artificial ionizing radiation, a few viruses such as Human T-lymphotropic virus, and some chemicals, notably benzene and alkylating chemotherapy agents for previous malignancies. Use of tobacco is associated with a small increase in the risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia in adults. Cohort and case-control studies have linked exposure to some petrochemicals and hair dyes to the development of some forms of leukemia. A few cases of maternal-fetal transmission have been reported. Diet has very limited or no effect, although eating more vegetables may confer a small protective benefit. Viruses have also been linked to some forms of leukemia. Experiments on mice and other mammals have demonstrated the relevance of retroviruses in leukemia, and human retroviruses have also been identified. The first human retrovirus identified was Human T-lymphotropic virus, or HTLV-1, is known to cause adult T-cell leukemia.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing leukemia. This predisposition is demonstrated by family histories and twin studies. The affected people may have a single gene or multiple genes in common. In some cases, families tend to develop the same kind of leukemia as other members; in other families, affected people may develop different forms of leukemia or related blood cancers. In addition to these genetic issues, people with chromosomal abnormalities or certain other genetic conditions have a greater risk of leukemia. For example, people with Down syndrome have a significantly increased risk of developing forms of acute leukemia (especially acute myeloid leukemia), and Fanconi anemia is a risk factor for developing acute myeloid leukemia.

Diagnosis is usually based on repeated complete blood counts and a bone marrow examination following observations of the symptoms, however, in rare cases blood tests may not show if a patient has leukemia, usually this is because the leukemia is in the early stages or has entered remission. A lymph node biopsy can be performed as well in order to diagnose certain types of leukemia in certain situations. Following diagnosis, blood chemistry tests can be used to determine the degree of liver and kidney damage or the effects of chemotherapy on the patient. When concerns arise about visible damage due to leukemia, doctors may use an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound. These can potentially view leukemia’s effects on such body parts as bones (X-ray), the brain (MRI), or the kidneys, spleen, and liver (ultrasound). Finally, CT scans are rarely used to check lymph nodes in the chest. Despite the use of these methods to diagnose whether or not a patient has leukemia, many people have not been diagnosed because many of the symptoms are vague, unspecific, and can refer to other diseases. For this reason, the American Cancer Society predicts that at least one-fifth of the people with leukemia have not yet been diagnosed.

Most forms of leukemia are treated with pharmaceutical medications, typically combined into a multi-drug chemotherapy regimen. Some are also treated with radiation therapy. In some cases, a bone marrow transplant is useful. These make for highly invasive treatment options, like most cancer treatments. However, there exists a non-invasive natural manner in which to promote cancer apoptosis which also comes without side effects except for a strengthened immune system to promote cell apoptosis and cancer apoptosis; fucoidan is this natural ingredients and it comes from brown seaweed, harvested in the world’s waters but the delivery method for fucoidan is paramount to the ability for fucoidan to best promote cell apoptosis and cancer apoptosis and that is when ingested in its natural form, in a suspended matrix gel. The treatment with fucoidan in the UMI suspended matrix gel will be enjoyed by everyone as it is a green apple flavor and has absolutely no resemblance of the taste of seaweed, making it highly palatable for children and adults alike. To promote cancer apoptosis or to prevent cancer, fucoidan should be on your your list of daily to dos and in this case it takes about ten or so seconds to ingest orally. Now if one has been diagnosed with cancer, including leukemia, or is having cancer symptoms, the need to ingest more fucoidan packed UMI is highly advised; fucoidan in a suspended matrix gel is also highly effective with promoting cancer apoptosis for skin cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer and many other forms of cancer.

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