What Is Leukemia? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, and More

LeukemiaLeukemia is a cancer (malignancy) of blood cells. This dangerous pathology not only interferes with the functioning of hemopoiesis but also disrupts the functioning of the whole body. Leukemia can affect people of all ages, including small children.

Causes of leukemia

  • Radiation. This can be a single exposure to excessive doses of radiation, an example of such an impact may be the tragedies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A person can also get a large dose of radiation during radiation therapy;
  • Continuous contact with dangerous chemical substances, smoking (tobacco), work with gasoline;
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy;
  • Pathologies related to chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s disease;
  • Prolonged immunodeficiency states;
  • Blood diseases, such as an aplastic type of anemia.

Heredity is not an important factor in the development of the disease, however, such cases are possible..

Leukemia is not an infectious disease, the altered blood of a sick person does not have any effect on another person.

Symptoms of leukemia

  • Fever, chills;
  • Headaches;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness;
  • Frequent or severe infections;
  • Nosebleeding;
  • Losing weight without trying;
  • Swollen lymph nodes;
  • Poor blood coagulability:
  • Enlarged liver or spleen;
  • Asthenia;
  • Dyspnea
  • Easy bleeding or bruising;
  • Recurrent nosebleeds;
  • Fatigue, weakness;
  • Lymphadenopathy in the inguinal, cervical and axillary regions;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Night sweats;
  • Bone/joint pain;
  • Abdominal discomfort;
  • Frequent diseases of an infectious form (pneumonia and ARVI);
  • Sharp weight loss;
  • Sweating, even if the room has a normal temperature;
  • The frequent occurrence of herpes and other similar diseases.


  • Lymphocytic leukemia is diagnosed in the violation of the leukocyte division functions in the bone marrow that is caused by the failure of the processes during their maturation. It is accompanied by anemia and thrombocytopenia. Due to a lack of platelets, increased bleeding occurs, which is accompanied by bruising;
  • Myelocytic leukemia is accompanied by a violation of cell division in the bone marrow. That prevents their normal maturation. In this case, these cells are a substitute for platelets, white blood cells, and erythrocytes. This type of leukemia is combined with an acute form of myelosclerosis (bone marrow fibrosis);
  • Lymphoblastic leukemia involves blood cells which leads to a violation of their division. In this case, there is a syndrome of intoxication. Male symptoms may include an increase in testicles.


Leukemia is detected only by blood tests. In addition, the sternum or pelvic bone is punctured for bone marrow sampling. Cytological examination of the bone marrow allows you to determine the type of altered cells, the aggressiveness of the tumor. Also, patients can be prescribed such studies as ultrasound, radiography, computer diagnostics, lymph node biopsy.

Can leukemia be cured?

Currently, leukemia which was identified at an early stage is well treated. With timely and complete therapy, it is possible to achieve a stable remission, which often lasts for decades, especially in children.

How to treat leukemia?

leukemia treatment

The main types of treatment for all types of leukemia include:

  1. Chemotherapy;
  2. Radiation therapy;
  3. Stem cell transplantation.

Chemotherapy is carried out with the help of certain medication that destroys cancer cells.

Radiotherapy is leukemia treatment with certain radiation (X-ray, etc.), which destructs cancer cells. In some cases, this method is used as a previous procedure for stem cell transplantation.

Stem cell transplantation – due to this procedure, it is possible to restore the production of healthy cells while improving the performance of the immune system. Prior to the transplantation procedure, doctors may perform chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can destroy a certain number of cells in the bone marrow, as well as free up space for stem cells and weaken the immune system.

Prognosis: How many years can you live with leukemia?

The prognosis for patients with leukemia depends on their age, the form of blood cancer, the prevalence of cancer, the body’s response to treatment. Most often, a poor prognosis is expected in men, children, adolescents over 10, in adults over 60.

The chances of a long-term remission decrease with late diagnosis, the initial multiple-folded level of leukocytes. Acutely developing leukemia is characterized by a rapid course, and if there is no course of treatment, then the patient’s death occurs quickly.

The five-year survival rate of 70% of patients with leukemia is considered a good indicator of recovery. With the proper selection of treatment methods, long-term remission can be achieved.