Blood cancer (leukemia, leukocytic sarcoma) unites a large group of malignant pathologies of the hematopoietic organs. They are accompanied by the following processes violations: formation, differentiation, and maturation of blood cells (mainly leukocyte series). They are also accompanied by the gradual displacement of healthy functions of active cells. Leukemia is considered one of the most common oncological pathologies in childhood, affects both sexes with the same frequency.
Atypical blood cells cannot perform functions, while they live longer and actively reproduce themselves, displacing normal blood cells. Leukemia results in systemic damage to the body (nervous, lymphatic system, liver, spleen).
Blood cancer is differentiated, depending on the defeat of a particular germ of hematopoiesis. There is also a division into acute and chronic forms, the characteristics of which differ from the usual notions of acute and chronic diseases.
Acute is called leukemia, which mainly immature, blast cells mutate. They proceed aggressively and have an unfavorable prognosis. In chronic blood cancer, changes affect mature blood cells. They are classified by the type of degenerating cells. Almost all of them develop for a long time and are characterized by a benign course.
Hematosarcoma deserves special attention. The tumor develops from hematopoietic cells, however, it is localized mainly outside the hematopoietic organs. As it develops, it can form intracranial tumors.
Clinical manifestations of blood cancer appear 1-3 months after the beginning of a hematopoietic cell mutation. Symptoms are nonspecific, similar for all forms of leukemia. Manifestations depend on the rate of development and localization of the oncological process, the degree of body intoxication, the deficiency of normal blood cells, damage to the hematopoietic, lymphatic, nervous system and internal organs.
There are several stages of the development of blood cancer:
- clinical (detailed manifestations);
- terminal stage.
Symptoms are more pronounced and quickly increase in acute leukemia. The chronic form is characterized by the slow development of symptoms. The main signs of leukemia are:
- weakness, drowsiness, general malaise;
- joint, muscle, bone pain;
- low-grade fever;
- loss of appetite.
Blood disorders are manifested by anemic (dizziness, pallor, tachycardia, shortness of breath) and hemorrhagic (small subcutaneous and intra organ hemorrhages, bleeding gums) syndrome. With neuroleukemia, severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, paresis and muscle paralysis are observed. Severe intoxication and immune disorders lead to frequent infectious diseases. Perhaps a significant increase in lymph nodes, thymus, liver, spleen, the formation of infiltrates in other internal organs are present. The patient may die at any stage due to hemorrhagic or infectious complications.
Due to the more frequent occurrence of blood cancer within families, scientists speak of a hereditary disease predisposition. Persons suffering from this disease have chromosomal abnormalities and immune pathologies. The risk group also includes people who regularly come into contact with carcinogens, ionizing radiation, and a high-frequency magnetic field. One of the predisposing factors is smoking, including passive.
Finally, the causes of leukemia have not been established. Doctors recommend that people at risk regularly undergo preventive examinations.
The main diagnosis of blood cancer is a laboratory examination. Suspicion of the disease may arise when considering the results of general and biochemical blood tests. The following procedures should be conducted:
- anemia, thrombocytopenia;
- increased or decreased white blood cells;
- the phenomenon of “leukemic failure” (the absence of transitional cell forms) is possible;
- bone marrow cells at various stages of development.
To make a diagnosis and clarify the form of leukemia, bone marrow, and cerebrospinal fluid biopsy is performed for subsequent morphological, immunological, cytochemical and cytogenetic analysis. To assess the condition of the internal organs, ultrasound, x-ray, CT, and MRI are performed.
The tactics of therapy are selected individually, depending on the type of leukemia and the general condition of the patient. The doctor may prescribe some of the medications like Cytoxan, Methotrexate, Leukeran, Hydrea. Often, immediate hospitalization in an oncohematological hospital is required.
The main focus of treatment is chemotherapy. Several cytotoxic drugs are prescribed for the maximum elimination of cancer cells. After the main one, fixing and supporting chemotherapy courses are prescribed in order to achieve a stable remission and to minimize the risk of relapse.
To prevent damage to the central nervous system, local administration of chemotherapy and irradiation of the lymph nodes and internal organs is carried out. Bone marrow transplantation allows in some cases to achieve recovery of patients.