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Leukemia: The Disease And The Treatment

1059 words - 4 pages

Leukeumia is a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow. Bone marrow is where platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells (Leukocytes) are made. (Medical Journal Dictionary)Leukemia is caused by the rapid production (Proliferation) of Leukocytes, and causes a build-up that inhibits red blood cells, and platelets from functioning and stops other Leukocytes from fighting infection. Because of the abnormally rapid production these cells are unable to mature or develop properly and are unable to carry out their functions. (Almeida & Barry, 2010) There are four main types of Leukemia, each classified by how rapid the disease develops and which type of white blood cell is affected; Acute which is a rapid development of Leukemia and Chronic a more gradual development of the disease. The two other classifications of Leukemia are determined by the type of white blood cell being affected; Lymphocytic (affecting the Lymphocytes) and Myeloid (affecting the Myelocytes). This gives us four types of Leukemia; Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (peak prevalence between the ages of 2-9years). (Almeida & Barry, 2010)
New treatments are being discovered yearly and are constantly being improved. The treatment for Leukemia depends on the patient’s age, the type of Leukemia, and where the cancer cells were found.

Treatment for Acute Leukemia:
Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)
What occurs in a BMT is the bone marrow cells are exposed to very high doses of Chemotherapy and/or Radiation Therapy to destroy them. Once the cells die and are no longer reproducing, new healthy bone marrow from another compatible human is given intravenously to the patient to help make new bone marrow. One disadvantage to BMT is that a relapse can occur. This means the patient can begin producing cancer cells again so an alternative treatment will need to be used. (MedicineNet)
Transfusions and Antibiotics
There are two types of transfusions given to a patient with Leukemia; blood transfusions which help to relieve Anemia, and platelet transfusions which help to promote clotting and prevent bleeding. Antibiotics are also given to fight off any infections the patient cannot fight off independently.
Targeted Therapy and Immunotherapy
Targeted therapy uses drugs to kill only the cancer cells without harming normal cells. A specific type of Target therapy is Monoclonal Antibody Therapy. Antibodies are formed in a laboratory that can identify substances that help in the formation of cancer cells. When the antibody recognizes the substance it attaches itself to it and can kill the cancer cells, block their growth or keep them from spreading. The antibodies can also be used to carry drugs, toxins or radioactive material straight to the cancer cells. Just like Targeted Therapy, Immunotherapy blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells, but instead uses the body’s own immune...

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