Facts About Leukemia Disease

There are questions that only facts about leukemia can answer. Questions such as...

  • What is leukemia?
  • Where does it begin?
  • Is it hereditary?

and the most important ones are . . .

  • Is it deadly?
  • Is prevention possible?

To emerge as a victor in any battle, you have to know the enemy.

From my research and reading, I found facts that answer the above questions and make the disease less formidable.

I used to think it only affects children (this shows my ignorance about the disease) but as I read more about it, I discovered that even adults can be its victim. The difference between leukemia in children and adults is the type that develops.

Another surprising tidbit I have learned is more men get diagnosed with leukemia than women. This made me ask why and led me to read on what causes it. I found out smoking is a big risk. There are more male smokers than women.

Among the many facts about leukemia, the most interesting I learned is unlike other cancers, it is NOT a solid tumor.

What It Is and Where It Attacks

Facts about leukemia from the NCI point to it as a cancer that starts in your bone marrow, which is the soft, inner part of your bones. Your bone marrow makes your . . .

  • white blood cells or lymphocytes,
  • platelets, and
  • red blood cells.

It is your white blood cells called lymphocytes that become abnormal. Your lymphocytes are very important because they are your body's defenders against bacteria and viruses. Healthy lymphocytes come from a healthy immune system and a weak immune system produces weak, damaged or immature lymphocytes.

Weak lymphocytes usually die and disappear without causing any harm. But when these damaged or immature white blood cells multiply really fast and out-of-control and don’t die as they should, they evolve into leukemic cells that form into a tumor. In simple terms, you have leukemia when there is too much bad lymphocytes in your bone marrow.

Remember what I said about a poor immune system producing damaged lymphocytes? This tells us that hey, leukemia is preventable. You just have to know what makes your immune system weak. Here are two things you (including me!) might be guilty of but are not aware of: Too much sugar in your diet and spending a lot of time under the heat of the sun without any protection. Both can hurt your immune system.

And you also need to know how to have a healthy immune system. Ganoderma extract can give you a well-functioning immune system.

Types of Leukemic Disease

Based on facts about leukemia from the National Cancer Institute, there are two major types: the acute and the chronic. However, these 2 main types are further divided into more than a dozen different types! And among the more than a dozen types, only about 4 of them are actually the most common.

The acute type which requires immediate treatment is the type that targets children. The chronic type is more common among older people.

Is it a Fatal Tumor?

The acute type is always deadly. The chronic type doesn't cause immediate harm because it grows slowly. However, it should not be left untreated for long because if left alone, it can also harm you. It can hinder the production of important cells in your lymphatic system.

Your red blood cells (RBCs), platelets and lymphocytes are there for a reason. Your RBCs carry oxygen throughout the body, your platelets are in charge of proper clotting of your blood, and your healthy lymphocytes are for the prevention of attacks from viruses and bacteria.

Leukemic cells, if left on their own, can . . .

  • engulf the bone marrow,
  • enter and travel through the bloodstream, and
  • attack your lymph nodes, spleen, liver and central nervous system such as the brain and spinal cord.

Who Discovered It?

The credit is given foremost to the Greeks. They are believed to have first recognized the disease during the 5th century. This is why the term comes from 2 Greek words - "leukos" and "hemia" which mean white blood.

However, John Hughes Benett made the first diagnosis in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1845. In my own humble opinion, it doesn't matter who discovered the disease. What matters is who will discover its cure.

Facts about Leukemia Statistics

According to facts about leukemia from the American Cancer Society, the statistics for new cases are 44,790 in 2009. These numbers are just for the U.S. alone. How many died because of the disease? In 2009, more than 21,000 patients diagnosed with it succumbed to it. Most of those who died were males and had the chronic lymphatic or CLL type.

CLL is most commonly diagnosed among adults 60 years and older. The acute lymphoblastic type (also known as ALL) is what develops more often among children below 15 years of age. ALL worsens very quickly which makes it fatal.

But take heart for there is hope. Studies are being done on the health benefits of olive oil in prevention of ALL in kids.

Is it a Hereditary Cancer?

In some instances, it is a hereditary cancer because your genetic make-up can cause it. For example, you are more prone to developing leukemic cells if you are Jewish. A child who has Down syndrome is also more vulnerable to the disease.

Blood disorders like Fanconi's anemia and Bloom syndrome are both hereditary and often lead to the disease.

The acute myeloid or myelogenous or AML type is considered as an inherited disease because AML cases have been diagnosed in families at an increased rate. If you have first degree relatives (a parent, an offspring or a sibling) diagnosed with AML, your risk of developing the same type is higher.

But your environment is still a very important factor. In fact, exposure to the poisonous chemicals from cigarettes is what causes leukemia.

How It Is Detected

The disease just like any other type of cancer gives signs and symptoms. That's why it is important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for so you can see your doctor. Early detection of the disease is crucial especially if it is the acute type.

Persistent low grade fever and bleeding gums are some of the signs of the disease.

Ironically, Marie Curie, who discovered radiation (which is used as treatment for cancer AND which causes the disease) died of this particular cancer. This is just one of the true facts about leukemia.

Related Pages You Might Like:

Causes of CLL Disease | Types of Leukemia | Leukemia Symptoms | Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Understanding CLL | Frequent Nose Bleeds: Warning Signs of Leukemia

Top of Facts About Leukemia

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