What is Leukaemia?
It is a cancer of the white blood cells. It's classified according to the type of white blood cells affected by cancer - ie Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (used to fight viral infections) or Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (fighting bacterial infections)
what happens in chronic leukaemia?
- stem cells are produced by bone marrow
- stem cells have the ability to create other specialised cells that carry out important functions such as - red blood cells (carry oxygen around the body), white blood cells (fight infections) and platelets (stop bleeding)
- cancer begins in the stem cells - produce more white blood cells which are deformed and arent as effective - vulnerable to infection
- also there are fewer red blood cells and platelets produced
- can cause anaemia, tiredness, excessive bleeding
Acute Leukaemia progresses rapidly and aggressivly and requires immediate treatment. There are two main types - Lymphicytes (viral infections) and neutrophils (bacterial infections)
what happens in acute leukaemia?
- bone marrow begins to realise a large number of immature white blood cells (blast cells)
- rapidly disrupt the normal balance of cells in the blood
- body does not have enough red blood cells or platelets.
- if left untreated, you will not recover because your blood supply will not function properly.
Acute Leukaemia begins with an alteration to the structure if DNA found in the stem cells responsible for producing white blood cells - genetic mutation.
unknown what triggeres the condition's development and causes the initial mutation to occur in the stem cells, but it can be caused by having a smiliar gentic mutation.
causes in adualts include:
- being exposed to the chemical benzene (found in petrol and cigarettes)
- being exposed to high levels of radiation
Usually begins slowly before rapidly getting severe as the number of blast cells in your bloodstream increase. Symptoms include: