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Leukemia is infamously known disease in modern times, yet a lot of people don’t have an exact understanding of what it really is, or how it started. Yet, despite being given so little attention, it raises many health concerns and affects a large portion of the population. In this research paper, the origin, its scientific description, symptoms, treatments, and other data will be explored in depth.
The word leukemia is actually quite old itself, coming from two Greek words, leukos and haima (white and blood). In an article written by Chloe Bennett for News Medical Life Sciences, she writes how the first ever given account of the word leukemia being given to the disease was by a man named Rudolf Virchow. Rudolf had been inspecting some contaminated blood underneath a microscope when he decided that the word leukemia to refer to this phenomenon he had discovered. On December 6, 1899, it was the first major event in history where a surgeon known as Maj. Samuel T. Armstrong died in Manila, in which his death was contributed to leukemia in his obituary. In 1913, leukemia had become even more well known and studied, in which people found out there were different types of leukemia. In this year, people still had little to no understanding when it came to leukemia, but knew that it correlated with someone’s blood. There are also many different other people who have been attributed to the discovery of leukemia. This is because since it was not well understood, it was hard for many it pinpoint its origin since there was not much recorded history on it. But, one certain candidate is John Hughes Bennett, who discovered the condition during an autopsy where he noticed the patient’s blood was highly abnormal and decided to investigate further. He then published his findings to Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal in 1845, and later became well known for the first scientific report on leukemia.
The basics of leukemia is that it is a type of cancer that attacks the body’s tissues that produce blood. These include bone marrow and also your body’s lymphatic system.
As pointed out earlier, many different forms of the disease have been found existing. According to mayoclinic.org, some of these different strains of leukemia are more prominent in children, and others found more likely in adults. Typically how leukemia works is that the disease targets your white blood cells, which in other essences means that it stops the cells from growing normally and also dividing properly. Your bone marrow includes white blood cells, and because of leukemia, many of the white blood cells made by it will cease to function properly. Leukemia tends to affect these cells by having them overproduce which leads to white blood cells destroying your healthy red blood cells. There are four types of leukemia most commonly found in people, Acute lymphocytic leukemia,
Acute myeloid leukemia, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Chronic myeloid leukemia. Acute lymphocytic typically affects your immature white blood cells (B or T lymphocytes), while acute myeloid typically affects adults along with them affecting mature white cells (or even red blood cells). Chronic lymphocytic begins in your B lymphocytes and then abnormally grow in size while pushing out your normal cells. Lastly, Chronic myeloid is the rarest of types, and will affect adults more than children. It is genetic and usually turns your myeloid cells into immature cancer cells, which then again continuously keep growing while overpowering your other health cells in your blood and bone marrow.
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, when a person has a low blood count, this is typically referred to as anemia. When a person experiences anemia, typically they have shortness of breath during everyday physical activity, fatigue, their complexion might become pale, and they could become overwhelmingly dizzy. Symptoms for victims who have low platelet counts include easily bruising, usual nosebleeds (severity can vary), long bleeding periods from cuts, blood in urine and in gums. Some more symptoms range from nightly sweats, discomfort in bones or joints, having enlarged spleen, liver, or lymph nodes, unexpected weight/appetite loss, and lastly pain below the ribs.
In order to provide an effective way to deal with the symptoms and effects of leukemia, there are many treatments that have been used throughout the years. The first modern day treatment is constant updates and doctor visits to make sure the disease is in check. This is useful typically to people who have the disease, but have not yet displayed any symptoms. These constant checkups are mainly useful to keep constant surveillance on the cells, and to make sure to be able to control the disease in time if side effects begin to occur. Chemotherapy is also a major treatment of leukemia, according to the Cancer Support Community, this is when drugs are given to a patient in order to combat the disease. Typically, there are many ways to take the drugs, either by mouth, into veins by IV, or by a catheter. These drugs kill the fast growing leukemia cells in your body, but a side effect to the drugs is that sometimes they can target other healthy cells that also develop rapidly. Stem cell transplant is another extreme method of treatment of leukemia. It involves using large amounts of radiation and drugs to kill not only the leukemia in your cells but also your healthy ones. They then became replaced with brand new health ones via stem cells donated from a healthy donor. Lastly, there are two more forms of therapy to combat leukemia, radiation and targeted therapy. Radiation therapy, as its name suggests, uses radiation rays to combat leukemia. The other, targeted therapy, is when patients are given drugs to stunt the growth of these abnormal cells in order to treat them, and is much less dangerous to other healthy cells then other treatments.
Leukemia has become in more recent times, a less considerable threat to people over time. More and more treatments have pop up as people began to understand what leukemia is, how it works, and most importantly, how to prevent it further. While it’s threat has diminish over a large period of time, it is still widely considered a massive problem to many. It’s history has expanded over two hundred years, yet we still study it constantly to gain even more understanding of the disease. As time progresses, leukemia may soon become an insignificant disease that’s easy to treat. But as for now, leukemia still remains and is constantly evolving alongside humans.
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