Bone marrow transplant – Successful treatment of Leukemia

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Bone marrow transplant is a surgical process involving taking cells from bone marrow, i.e. stem cells. After that, it filters cells and after that gives back to the donor or another person. The main objective of bone marrow transplant is to replace healthy bone marrow cells in the patient after his/her own unhealthy bone marrow has been treated to kill the abnormal cells. This process is performed to treat many diseases, including leukemias.

All About Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer which forms in blood-forming tissue and occurs when there are uncontrolled growth of blood cells, generally white blood cells in the bone marrow. Due to the uncontrollable growth of Leukemia cells, they crowd out and replace normal blood and marrow cells.

Causes of Leukemia

The exact cause of the condition is not still unknown. According to the researchers, it develops because of mutations in the DNA of certain blood cells caused by environmental factors and genetics. There are many risk factors for Leukemias:

  • Long term exposure to radiation
  • People above 65 years of age
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Certain blood disorders

Symptoms of Leukemia

There are many symptoms of Leukemia and varies as it depends upon the type of the condition, the speed at it grows, the stage at which the condition is diagnosed. Some common signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Easy bruising or else bleeding
  • Frequent infections

Types of Leukemia

There are four significant types of leukemia listed below:

  • acute myeloid leukemia, i.e. AML

This type of cancer progresses rapidly without treatment and affects mostly cells that are not developed.

  • chronic myeloid leukemia, i.e. CML

This is the type of cancer which is diagnosed in its chronic phase when treatment is very effective for most patients. Most patients are treated well with daily oral drug therapy.

  • acute lymphoblastic leukemia, i.e. ALL

This is a type of cancer that progresses rapidly without treatment. It is also termed as acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphoid leukemia.

  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia, i.e. CLL

It is the most common type of leukemia in adults and progresses either slowly or quickly, depending on the form it takes.

Chronic leukemia grows slowly, on the other hand, in acute leukemia, the cells are very abnormal, and the number increases rapidly. Adults can get either of the above types and in children, most often they have an acute type. Some leukemias can be cured, and many other types are hard to cure but can be controlled successfully.

Treatment of Leukemia

Treatment for leukemia depends on the type of the disease, along with each patient’s unique diagnosis and requirements. There are many treatment options including

  • Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy to treat leukemia is performed to destroy leukemia cells, to relieve problems caused by an enlarged liver, swollen lymph nodes, and also to help treat pain from bone damage due to leukemia cells growing in the bone marrow. Radiation therapy may also be given as low doses before bone marrow transplant.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the way to treat the condition and in which doctors give many drugs together in a set regimen. The reason that each medication helps to destroy tumour cells in many ways; a combination of drugs may make the cells more vulnerable to treatment.

  • Targeted therapy

In this process, drugs are given in combination with other leukemia treatments like chemotherapy. This therapy directly attacks leukemia cells, and assists to reduce damage to healthy cells and also reduce side effects.

  • Bone marrow transplantation

Bone marrow translation, also known as stem cell transplantation is the procedure to infuse healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body. Healthy stem cells are collected from the bone marrow; stem cells may come from the patient or from a matched donor. Cost of bone marrow transplant in India varies and depends upon the process chosen. As Autologous transplant costs between USD 21,000 and 25,000 and on the other hand, the cost of the allogeneic transplantation is about USD 30,000.

Leukemia is a very common form of cancer and prior knowledge of its causes, risk factors, as well as symptoms, can save many lives. In case you are diagnosed with this condition, a patient who has undergone a bone marrow transplant can resume his life along with other activities within six to twelve months post-transplantation.

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