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Cancer Essay

1479 words - 6 pages

Disease BackgroundLeukemia was first recognized 5000 years B.C by the ancient Greeks. In 1845, Leukemia was officially diagnosed by John Hughes Bennett in Scotland. Other doctors discovered that some of their patients had abnormally high levels of white blood cells. The disease was first called "weisses blut," meaning white blood. The name "Leukemia" that is used nowadays comes from the Greek words "leukos" and "heima," which also mean white blood. Around 30 years after the discovery of the disease, doctors organized four types of Leukemia: Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, Erythroleukemia and Chronic Lymphocytic and Myelogenous Leukemias.Disease DescriptionThe term Leukemia is a broad term that consists of different cancers that occur in the bone marrow, the soft, spongy center of bones, which is responsible for supplying blood cells. The cells that are produced in the bone marrow include: white blood cells, which help the body fight infections and other diseases; red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and take carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs; and platelets, which help form blood clots that control bleeding. When Leukemia develops in the body, large numbers of abnormal blood cells are produced. In most cases of Leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are usually white blood cells. The Leukemia cells not only function differently from normal cells, but also usually look different as well. The different types of Leukemia can either be acute or chronic. In acute Leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are blasts that remain very immature and cannot carry out their normal functions. Acute Leukemia can occur at any age and the disease develops rapidly. In chronic Leukemia, some blast cells are present, but in general, these cells are more mature and can carry some of their normal functions. Chronic Leukemia usually occurs in adults and the disease develops more slowly.Cause(s)Till this very day, scientists, experts, researchers and doctors are still not aware of what actually causes Leukemia. But they do know that some things can increase the risk of developing some types of Leukemia. Some known risk factors include: high doses of radiation, exposure to certain chemicals such as Benzene, having genetic syndromes such as: Down syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome etc, previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy and/or history of a blood disorder. Since Leukemia is a type of cancer, it is not infectious, meaning it cannot be caught or transmitted from one person to another. Since Leukemia is a disease of the white blood cells, and white blood cells carry genetic material, unlike red blood cells, there is a genetic component to the disease. You might carry a genetic mutation from one of your parents, but it does not necessarily mean you will have Leukemia.SymptomsThere are many signs and symptoms of Leukemia. Signs and symptoms sometimes differ depending on the type of Leukemia that the patient is diagnosed with....

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