Recognizing Blood Cell Malignancy (Leukemia)
The spite of blood cells is leukemia cancer. According to data from the WHO (World Health Organization), in Indonesia alone, there were 11,314 cases of death caused by leukemia in 2019, cancer with the fifth highest number of deaths in Indonesia, after lung, breast, liver, and cervical cancer.
Leukemia or commonly known as blood cell cancer is a type of cancer whose growth cannot be controlled by the formation of cells in the blood and the bone marrow. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells caused by blood stem cells that produce too many abnormal white blood cells. This disorder affects the production and function of blood cells; most cases of leukemia begin in the bone marrow, where blood cell production is disrupted by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells. This cancer can occur in both adults and children.
White blood cells are part of the immune system, these white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. If the function of the bone marrow is disrupted, the white blood cells change and are no longer usually carrying out their role effectively.
Leukemia can be acute or chronic. In chronic leukemia, cancer will develop slowly with mild initial symptoms. Whereas in acute leukemia, the development of cancer cells will occur very quickly with symptoms that can get worse in a short time. This causes acute leukemia more dangerous than chronic leukemia.
Based on the type of white blood cells, leukemia is divided into four main types, namely:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) Acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs when the spinal cord produces too many white blood cells with immature lymphocytes (lymphoblasts).
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs when the bone marrow produces too many abnormal lymphocytes and can slowly lead to cancer.
- Acute myeloblastic leukemia
Acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) occurs when the bone marrow produces immature myeloid cells or too many myeloblasts.
- Chronic myelocytic leukemia
Chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML) this condition occurs when the bone marrow is no longer able to produce mature myeloid cells.
Abnormalities cause leukemia in white blood cells that grow uncontrollably. But it is not known exactly why this happens, but several factors can increase the risk of developing leukemia, namely:
- Having a family history of leukemia
- Suffering from genetic disorders
- Suffering from a blood disorder
- Exposure to chemicals, such as benzene, in the work environment
- Have a smoking habit
Symptoms of Leukemia
Early symptoms of leukemia often do not cause signs of symptoms. Symptoms will appear when cancer cells grow and attack the patient's body cells. Leukemia has a variety of symptoms that occur, depending on the type of leukemia suffered. But in general, the symptoms experienced by people with leukemia are:
- The appearance of anemia symptoms
- Red spots on the skin
- Fatigue that doesn't go away even after resting
- Drastic weight loss and easy bruising
- The appearance of a lump in the neck due to swollen lymph nodes
- Swelling of the liver and spleen
Severe symptoms can appear if cancer cells block blood vessels in certain organs. Severe symptoms that may appear include:
- There was a terrible headache
- The appearance of nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the bones, muscles lose control to seizures
In the treatment of specialists, doctors will determine the method of treatment based on the type of leukemia and the person's overall condition. Here are some methods of treating leukemia:
- Chemotherapy a method of treatment using drugs to kill cancer cells. The process of using the medicine can be in the form of drinking tablets or infusion injections, such as cytarabine or fludarabine.
- Radiation Therapy radiation therapy can help destroy malignant cells and stop the growth of cancer cells by using radiation beams.
- A stem cell transplant is performed to replace damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. The stem cells can come from the body itself or other people's bodies as donors.
- Targeted therapy can be given to attack malignant cells specifically, such as stopping the action of specific proteins on malignant cells that can inhibit the growth and development of the disease.
For the prevention of leukemia, there is no practical way to prevent it. However, some efforts can be made to reduce the risk of developing leukemia, including:
- Applying regular exercise
- Stop the smoking habit
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE), especially if Friends of Hermina work in an environment that is prone to chemical exposure.
- And undergo routine health checks to detect cancer early.
Leukemia is challenging to diagnose and, if left unchecked, can cause complications to our health. Therefore, if Hermina's Friend experiences some symptoms, immediately go for a check-up to get immediate and appropriate treatment to prevent the development and growth of blood cell cancer.