Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

Leukemia Treatment: Types, Risk Factor, Causes & Doctors In India

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that develops when the bone marrow starts to make an abnormal amount of immature white blood cells called leukemia cells or blasts. These immature cells cannot fight infections the way healthy white blood cells fight and they crowd out the other blood cells. Eventually, there aren’t enough red blood cells to supply oxygen, or enough platelets to clot blood, or enough normal white blood cells to fight infection. And this starts to affect the way our major organs functions.

Types of Leukemia

Leukemia is grouped in two ways:-

  • How fast it develops and gets worse – Acute or Chronic
  • Which type of blood cells are affected – Myeloid or Lymphoid

Acute Leukemia gets bad very fast and happens when most of the abnormal white blood cells stay immature and cannot carry on their normal functions; whereas Chronic Leukemia gets bad slowly as the abnormal white blood cells co-exist with the normal white blood cells.

There are four main types of Leukemia:

Symptoms of Leukemia

Many types of Leukemia produce no obvious symptoms in the early stages, however, symptoms develop and may include the following: 

  • Anemia and related symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, and a general feeling of illness
  • The tendency to bruise or bleed easily, including bleeding from the gums or nose or blood in the stool or urine
  • Sensitive to infections such as a sore throat or pneumonia, and could be accompanied by a headache, low-grade fever, mouth sores or skin rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes, typically in the throat, armpit or groin
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Discomfort under the left lower ribs caused by a swollen spleen

How is Leukemia Diagnosis?

Since Leukaemia shows no obvious symptoms in the early stages of the disease, it can be detected incidentally either during a physical exam or a routine blood testing. 

Your doctor should suspect Leukemia if a person shows any of the above-mentioned symptoms, however, to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific type of Leukemia, a needle biopsy and an aspiration of the bone marrow from a pelvic bone should be done. This is done to test for the presence of Leukemic Cells

What is the Treatment Procedure?

The treatment of Leukemia largely depends on the type of Leukemia, the stage of the disease or how far it has spread and the overall health of the patient. However, the main options are: 

  • Chemotherapy – It uses drugs to kill cancer cells in the blood & bone marrow and is administered either through an injection or as a pill
  • Radiation – It uses high-energy X-rays to either kill leukemia cells or stop them from growing.
  • Biologic Therapy – Also known as immunotherapy, it helps the immune system find and attack cancer cells
  • Targeted Therapy – It uses drugs to block specific genes or proteins that cancer cells need to grow
  • Stem Cell or Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) – It replaces the leukemic cells in the bone marrow with new ones that make blood.

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Dr. Vikas Dua

Head and Senior Consultant, Pediatric Hematology Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant

Dr. Vikas Dua is Paediatric Hemato Oncologist and bone marrow transplant specialist of the generation. Dr. Dua's results in the field of Paediatric Haematology Oncology and BMT have been some of the best. He and his team has done 200 + paediatric transplants. 

About Dr. Rahul Bhargava

Hematologist, Hemato-oncologist & Stem Cell Transplant Physician

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Rahul Bhargava is currently the Director of Haematology, Paediatric Haematology, Immunology and Stem Cell Transplant at Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurgaon – India’s first integrated Centre of Excellence in Haematology, Paediatric Haematology, and Stem Cell Transplant.

Dr. Aniruddha Dayama

Hematology, Pediatric Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist

Dr. Aniruddha Dayama in 2015 led the efforts to get NMDP, USA approval for one of the leading hospitals in Gurgaon. He and his team have popularised autologous transplants in multiple sclerosis. The team has been credited for establishing six low-cost centers across North India.