Acute lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells of the body, causing a mutation that eliminates the cell’s ability to perform properly. These corrupted white blood cells do not mature correctly and reproduce rapidly, taking up the room needed by healthy blood cells to perform their functions for the body. There are nearly 5,000 cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia diagnosed in the United States annually. The individuals at greatest risk of developing the condition include children under the age of 15 and adults over the age of 45, although individuals of any age can develop the condition. In older individuals, the risk of developing the condition increases with age. The condition is found more frequently in developed countries and occurs at different rates in different geographical locations.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia, also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute lymphoid leukemia, cannot be passed from individual to individual through contact. There are many factors that have been associated with the development of the condition, but researchers are still attempting to determine what exactly causes the disorder. Previous exposure to chemotherapy or radiation therapy has been associated with the development of acute lymphocytic leukemia. Long term exposure to high levels of certain chemicals, such as benzene, has also been linked to the development of acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is believed that high levels of benzene and other chemicals that are known carcinogens in the body can cause the DNA changes that create many different types of cancers. Most experts believe that the condition maybe caused by a combination of environmental agents and genetic sensitivities.
The typical symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia resemble the symptoms of many other conditions. When an individual decides to seek medical treatment for relief of the symptoms, a number of tests will be needed to determine the exact cause of the symptoms. The initial symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia include fever, muscle aches, headaches, pale skin, and enlarged lymph nodes. As the condition progresses, individuals may experience bleeding issues, such as the appearance of bruises for no apparent reason, long bleeding from minor cuts, and pin sized spots of blood appearing on the skin. Any individual experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical treatment immediately.
After a positive diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia is obtained, the affected individual has many different treatment options available to manage their condition. The treatment option will take into consideration the age of the patient, the patient’s general health, the amount of affected cells in the blood, and whether the affected cells have spread through the body. The primary treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia is chemotherapy, which uses medications to kill the affected cells throughout the body. This treatment is risky because the medications cannot distinguish between healthy cells and abnormal cells, so it kills any blood cells that it comes into contact with. Other treatments that may be used include radiation therapy and bone marrow transplantation. In some cases, therapy can put the condition into permanent remission.
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