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Getting Your Head Around Leukemia
A cancer diagnosis is something no one wants to get from his or her doctor, and when it happens, the first thing that might come to mind is whether is it curable.
Leukemia has an infamous reputation for being one of the deadliest forms of this disease, but they can cure it.
Cancer Research UK, an organization that devotes to studying potential cures and treatments for cancer, explains your chances of survival and recovery and if you are likely to be affected by a series of factors such as fitness, a cancer, stage of the disease, and age.
As Don A. Stevens M.D., a Medical Oncologist at Norton Healthcare from the Norton Cancer Institute explains, modern medicine has come up with better ways to treat leukemia and the survival rate has ballooned.
We will talk about the 5 most common treatments as listed by Mayo Clinic beginning with:
This is probably the method most people know, in part, because many movies and T.V. shows portray it. It consists by using a combination of chemicals and drugs to kill the leukemia cells.
The level of leukemia will determine the type of drugs, treatment and duration. This process is better known for its side effects such as hair loss and extreme weakness.
This method has gained recognition during the last couple of years because it is not as toxic as chemotherapy and it does not go as hard on the body.
The principle behind biological therapy is making your immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. Cancer is good at dropping off your immune system’s radar, and scientists have been working to solve this.
As of now, biological therapy relies on two methods. Method one is enhancing the immune system, so it detects and attacks cancer cells. Method two is altering the cancer cells themselves to alter their ability to obfuscate.
This also involves drugs but at a much lower extent than chemotherapy. The aim is to affect the abnormal cells by affecting its ability to multiply.
The drug imatinib (Gleevec) stops the action of a protein within the leukemia cells of people with chronic myelogenous leukemia. This can help control the disease, according to an article from the Mayo Clinic.
This one usually precedes a stem cell transplant. The principle behind this method is using high-energy beams such as x-rays to bombard and damage leukemia cells. The aim is to stop the disease’s propagation in the body.
Stem Cell Transplant
I think this to be the ultimate solution for leukemia. During this procedure, we replace the affected bone marrow by a healthy one which means the production of faulty white cells stops.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are normally perquisites for stem cell transplant as the disease has to be weakened before trying to solve the root of the problem.
The healthy tissue can come from a donor or the patient itself, depending on the situation.
Image Credit: Fighting Leukemia
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