Haematological Cancer

  • Overview


    Acute leukaemia appears suddenly and develops quickly. It occurs when immature white blood cells (blast cells) grow out of control and continue to divide but never mature into normal cells.

    The abnormal blast cells are known as leukaemia cells. Because they are immature and abnormal, leukaemia cells do not carry out the usual function of white blood cells. They also crowd out the normal white blood cells, which leads to an increased risk of infections.

    When the bone marrow fills with leukaemia cells, there is little room for healthy red cells and platelets to be produced. This causes a variety of health problems.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted and adapted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/944/b1000/acute-leukaemia-19/what-is-acute-leukaemia/?pp=33228&cc=9561&&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    What types are there?


    There are two types of acute leukaemia, depending on what type of white blood cell is involved:

    • acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
    • acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

    ALL is a leukaemia involving lymphoid blast cells, which are known as lymphoblasts. ALL is also sometimes called acute lymphatic leukaemia.

    AML is a leukaemia involving myeloid blast cells, also called myeloblasts.

    Other types of leukaemia


    There are several different types of leukaemia. All leukaemias start in the bone marrow and affect white blood cell production. They are grouped depending on how quickly the disease develops and which type of white blood cell is affected (lymphoid or myeloid).

    • Acute leukaemia – affects immature blood cells, occurs suddenly and develops quickly.
    • Chronic leukaemia – usually affects older cells, appears gradually and develops slowly over months to years.

    Symptoms


    The main symptoms are caused by the continually increasing number of leukaemia cells in the bone marrow, which reduces the number of normal blood cells.

    The main signs include:

    • Anaemia: The lack of red blood cells can cause paleness, weakness and breathlessness.
    • Repeated or persistent infections: The lack of normal white blood cells can cause sore mouth and throat, fevers, frequent passing of urine with irritation, boils and infected cuts.
    • Increased bruising and bleeding: The lack of platelets can cause easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums, and heavy periods in women.

    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted and adapted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/73410/b1000/acute-leukaemia-19/acute-leukaemia-symptoms/?pp=33232&cc=9541&&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    Diagnosis


    An initial blood test will show if leukaemia cells are present or if the levels of blood cells are different to those of a healthy person. Other tests will confirm a diagnosis and will determine what type of leukaemia you have.

    • Bone Marrow biopsy
    • Chest x-ray and other imagin
    • Lumbar puncture

    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted and adapted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/2018/b1000/acute-leukaemia-19/acute-leukaemia-diagnosis/?pp=33232&cc=3309&&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


  • Treatment


    Treatment usually begins as soon as you have been diagnosed and will depend on what type of acute leukaemia you have.

    • You will probably have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
    • You may have steroid therapy.
    • You may have a peripheral blood stem cell or bone marrow transplantation.
    • In cases of advanced cancer, you may have palliative care

    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/2485/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/acute-leukaemia-treatment-overview/?pp=33234&cc=254&&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    Radiotherapy for acute leukaemia


    Uses x-rays to destroy cancer cells or injure them so they cannot multiply. It is used for people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and, less commonly, acute myeloid leukaemia. It is usually directed at the brain and spine. It is sometimes given to the whole body in preparation for a transplant. Your radiation oncologist and haematologist will discuss the type of radiotherapy and the number of treatments you need.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/75576/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/radiotherapy-for-acute-leukaemia/?pp=33234&cc=254&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


    Chemotherapy for acute leukaemia


    Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells while doing the least possible damage to healthy cells.

    It is usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously). Sometimes it is given in tablet form or as an injection into the spine during a lumbar puncture.

    Chemotherapy for acute leukaemia is given in two or three stages: induction, consolidation and maintenance. Only people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and a rare type of acute myeloid leukaemia are given maintenance treatment.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/75575/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/chemotherapy-for-acute-leukaemia/?pp=33234&cc=254&ct=10

    © Cancer Council NSW 2012


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