Content: Childhood leukaemia is defined as cancer of leucocytes. In this disease, WBC’s are produced in abnormally large quantity within bone marrow. These abnormal leucocytes aggregate within the bone marrow and enter the blood circulation. Since, they are defective white blood cells, they are not able to perform their actual task of protecting the human against infectious diseases.
With the progression of disease the leukaemia starts interfering with other essential functions,such as production of platelets and red blood cells. As a result patient develops bleeding disorder and anaemia. The large number of abnormal white blood cells also increases the chances ofgetting infections.
Classification of Leukaemia
- Acute Leukaemia
- Chronic Leukaemia
Acute LeukaemiaAcute leukaemia develops quickly within a small period of time. Acute leukaemia is further categorised into acute myeloid leukaemia and the acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The name depends on the cells involved, which can be either myelocytes or lymphocytes.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is common in age group of two to eight years. While acute myeloid leukaemia is more commonly seen in children who are less than two years old. Many studiesshow that acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is more common than acute myeloid leukaemia.
Chronic LeukaemiaChronic Leukaemia grows slowly over a period of several years. Such leukaemia is rarely seen in children.
Causes of Leukaemia1. Genetics
Inherited anomaly such as Li-Fraumeni(caused due to alteration in TS genes) and Down syndrome(which has an additional chromosome number 21) increases the risk of childhood leukaemia.
2. Compromised Inherited Immune Deficiency
Some children take birth with the immune deficiency, for example those suffering from bloom syndrome or ataxia telangiectasia. Because of reduced immunity they have greater chance of developing cancers like leukaemia.
3. Leukemic Siblings or Twins
The siblings of leukemic children have more chances of developing leukaemia. The chances are much greater in twins who are identical.
4. Alcohol consumption
Studies show that those women who consumed alcohol during their pregnancy, their children are at higher risk of getting leukaemia.
Several researches indicate that exposure to radiations, such as CT-Scans or X-Rays during first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk in child of developing leukaemia.
Certain drugs and chemotherapy which is used as a chief treatment for cancer can result in causing leukaemia in cancer patient.
7. Organ Transplant
To perform organ transplant the immunity needs to be supressed and this process increases the risk of developing leukaemia.
Sign and SymptomsChild suffering from leukaemia mainly appears with weakness, fatigue, repeated infections, fever, bleeds easily, pain in joints, abdominal swelling, lymph node swelling, weight loss, headache, dyspnoea and decreased appetite.
Diagnosis and TreatmentLeukaemia is diagnosed on physical examination, blood test and bone marrow test. After diagnosis team of doctor discuss the treatment options. Chemotherapy is the most common treatment used for treating leukaemia.
Every year thousands of young children are affected by leukaemia. Thanks to the researchers now the treatment of this disease has become much effective and there is more chance of 100% cure and recovery.