Fevers, weakness, fatigue and bone pain precede the presence of pallor and bruising when a person has leukemia. Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow where this cancer starts. When abnormal white cells are made both in character and quantity, then the diagnosis of leukemia can be determined from a blood smear. Leukemia can be acute or chronic. The cells that are out of control can be lymphocytic in nature or myelogenous. Lymphocytic cells are white blood cells while granulocytes, red cells, and platelets are affected in the other type of leukemia.
Leukemia is diagnosed when the patient’s white cell count has many immature white blood cells. The bone marrow of the patient does not work properly and abnormal white blood cells that don’t function normally are produced.
Diagnosis is generally made with a blood count and a bone marrow evaluation that looks at how effectively the inside of the bone is producing blood cells. Treatment is complex and designed to treat specific types of leukemia. Most patients are given chemotherapy and followed closely by a hematologist. Induction, consolidation, and maintenance are the three categories of sequential treatment of leukemia. Further chemotherapy, stem cell transplant and clinical trial enrollment can be used to treat recurring disease.
Specific medications are combined to treat the various stages of leukemia with bone marrow transplant after whole body irradiation used as the final step if needed to eradicate the disease.