Acute Leukemia Signs and Symptoms

In this acute leukemia signs and symptoms post we have briefly explained about leukemia, common types of blood leukemia, rare types of blood leukemia, leukemia signs and symptoms. 

Leukemia, often known as leukaemia, is a blood or bone marrow malignancy marked by an abnormal increase in immature white blood cells known as “blasts.” Leukemia is a broad term that refers to a variety of disorders. Hematological neoplasms are diseases that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system and are classified as cancers of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system.

Leukemia

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Types of Blood Leukemia

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

Acute leukemia

Acute leukemia an common types of blood leukemia is characterized by a rapid increase in the number 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

Chronic leukemia an common types of blood 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, resulting in many abnormal white blood cells. 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.

Subdivisions

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:

Lymphocytic leukemias

In lymphoblastic or lymphocytic leukemias an common types of blood leukemia, 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.

Myelogenous leukemias

In myeloid or myelogenous leukemias an common types of blood leukemia, 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.

Rare Types

Combining these two classifications provides a total of four main categories. Within each of these four main categories, there are typically several subcategories. Finally, some rarer types are usually considered to be outside of this classification scheme.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) an rare types of blood leukemia is the most common type of leukemia in young children. This disease also affects adults, especially that age 65 and older.

Standard treatments involve chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 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

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) an rare types of blood leukemia 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

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) an rare types of blood leukemia 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%, except for APL, which is over 90%. Subtypes of AML include acute promyelocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) an rare types of blood leukemia 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)

Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) an rare types of blood leukemia is sometimes considered a subset of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but does not fit neatly into this pattern. About 80% of affected people are adult men. No cases in children have been reported. HCL is incurable, but easily treatable. Survival is 96% to 100% at ten years.

T-cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia (T-PLL)

T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) an rare types of blood leukemia 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

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

Adult T-cell leukemia an rare types of blood 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. Human T cell lymphotropic virus types I and II (HTLV-I/II) are endemic in certain areas of the world.

Signs and Symptoms

Damage to the bone marrow, by way of displacing the normal bone marrow cells with higher numbers of immature white blood cells, results in a lack of blood platelets, which are important in the blood clotting process. This means people with leukemia may easily become bruised, bleed excessively, or develop pinprick bleeds (petechiae).

White blood cells, which are involved in fighting pathogens, may be suppressed or dysfunctional. This could cause the patient’s immune system to be unable to fight off a simple infection or to start attacking other body cells. Because leukemia prevents the immune system from working normally, some patients experience frequent infection, ranging from infected tonsils, sores in the mouth, or diarrhea to life-threatening pneumonia or opportunistic infections. Finally, the red blood cell deficiency leads to anemia, which may cause dyspnea and pallor.

Leukemia

Acute Leukemia Signs and Symptoms

Some patients experience other symptoms, such as feeling sick, having fevers, chills, night sweats, feeling fatigued and other flu-like symptoms. Some patients experience nausea or a feeling of fullness due to an enlarged liver and spleen; this can result in unintentional weight loss. Blasts affected by the disease may come together and become swollen in the liver or in the lymph nodes causing pain and leading to nausea.

If the leukemic cells invade the central nervous system, then neurological symptoms (notably headaches) can occur. All symptoms associated with leukemia can be attributed to other diseases. Consequently, leukemia is always diagnosed through medical tests.

The word leukemia, which means ‘white blood’, is derived from the disease’s namesake high white blood cell counts that most leukemia patients have before treatment. The high number of white blood cells is apparent when a blood sample is viewed under a microscope. Frequently, these extra white blood cells are immature or dysfunctional. The excessive number of cells can also interfere with the level of other cells, causing a harmful imbalance in the blood count.

Some leukemia patients do not have high white blood cell counts visible during a regular blood count. This less-common condition is called aleukemia. The bone marrow still contains cancerous white blood cells which disrupt the normal production of blood cells, but they remain in the marrow instead of entering the bloodstream, where they would be visible in a blood test. For an aleukemic patient, the white blood cell counts in the bloodstream can be normal or low. Aleukemia can occur in any of the four major types of leukemia, and is particularly common in hairy cell leukemia.

Further Readings

Reference

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4365-leukemia
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/leukemia
  3. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/understanding-leukemia-symptoms
  4. https://www.lls.org/leukemia/acute-lymphoblastic-leukemia/signs-and-symptoms
  5. https://www.lls.org/leukemia/chronic-myeloid-leukemia/signs-and-symptoms