Leukaemia - Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Pictures, Treatment


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Leukaemia is a complex disease that affects the blood and bone marrow, disrupting the delicate balance of the body's immunity. It is recognized by the rapid growth of abnormal blood cells in the bone marrow. This uncontrolled growth can lead to a shortage of healthy blood cells, causing various symptoms in the body. 

Continue reading to learn and explore more about leukaemia's meaning. The following article discusses leukaemia definition, its symptoms, treatment, causes, different types of diagnostic tests, and even some pictures for a better understanding of this complex disease. 

Disease Name


Alternative Name

Blood Cancer
Symptoms Fatigue, Frequent infection, Easy bruising, Pale skin, Bone pain
Causes Genetic factors, Radiation exposure, Chemical Exposure, Smoking and tobacco use, Family history

Physical examination, Blood Test, Bone marrow biopsy, Imaging testing

Treated by Medical Oncologist,  Surgical Oncologist
Treatment Options Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Immunotherapy, Hematopoietic cell transplantation

What is Leukaemia?

Leukaemia is a cancer affecting the bone marrow and blood. It originates from the bone marrow, which is where blood cells are made. Leukaemia is characterised by the proliferation of aberrant white blood cells, often known as leukaemia cells, which crowd out normal blood cells.

This results in an imbalance in the blood cell population, which can have several negative effects.

Interestingly, leukaemia is the most common cancer in people under the age of 20. It is also the second most happening cancer in adults older than 55, after lung cancer. 

Leukaemia Types

Leukaemia can be classified into four main types based on the speed of cell growth and the type of cells affected, myeloid (blood-forming cells in bone marrow ) or lymphoid cells (white blood cells that play an essential role in the bone marrow).

  1. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL): A fast-growing form of leukaemia primarily affecting lymphoid cells. 
    1. Most frequently diagnosed in children, but can also occur in adults. 
    2. Prompt treatment is crucial for achieving a favourable outcome.
  2. Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML): A rapidly progressing leukaemia that affects myeloid cells. 
    1. Occurs in children and adults, with a higher incidence in older individuals. 
    2. Treatment approaches vary depending on various factors, including age and overall health.
  3. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL): An accumulation of mature lymphocytes characterises slow-growing leukaemia. 
    1. Primarily diagnosed in older adults, but can occasionally affect younger individuals. 
    2. Treatment options are influenced by the stage of the disease and the patient's overall health.
  4. Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML): leukaemia that typically progresses slowly, initially presenting with chronic phase symptoms.
    1. Involves a specific genetic mutation known as the Philadelphia chromosome. 
    2. Treatment options include targeted therapies and, in some cases, stem cell transplantation.

Leukaemia Stages

Leukemia is staged based on the extent of the disease and the progression of cancer cells. The staging system for leukaemia varies depending on the specific type of leukaemia. Here are the general stages for some common types:

  1. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL):
    1. Stage 1: Cancer cells are primarily found in the bone marrow and blood.
    2. Stage 2: Cancer cells have spread to other organs such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.
    3. Stage 3: Cancer cells have spread to the brain and spinal cord, known as central nervous system involvement.
    4. Stage 4: Cancer cells have spread to other body parts beyond the bone marrow and central nervous system.
  2. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML):
    1. Stage 1: Cancer cells are found mainly in the bone marrow.
    2. Stage 2: Cancer cells have spread to the blood and other organs such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.
    3. Stage 3: Cancer cells have infiltrated the central nervous system or other body parts.
    4. Stage 4: Cancer cells have spread extensively to multiple organs or tissues.
  3. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL):
    1. Stage 0: The disease is characterized by abnormal blood cell counts but does not require immediate treatment.
    2. Stage I: Increased lymphocyte count in the blood, enlarged lymph nodes, and enlarged spleen or liver.
    3. Stage II: Increased lymphocyte count, enlarged lymph nodes, and enlarged spleen or liver, along with anaemia.
    4. Stage III: Increased lymphocyte count, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen or liver, and low platelet count.
    5. Stage IV: Advanced disease with decreased red blood cells, decreased platelets, and significant organ involvement.
  4. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML):
    1. Chronic Phase: The disease is stable, and the number of abnormal cells is relatively low.
    2. Accelerated Phase: The disease progresses more rapidly, and the number of abnormal cells increases.
    3. Blast Phase: The disease becomes aggressive, and there is a higher number of immature, abnormal cells.

Leukaemia Symptoms

The leukaemia symptoms differ depending on the type and stage of leukaemia. For example, someone with a chronic form of leukaemia may not have noticeable manifestations in the early stages. Here are some common leukaemia symptoms associated with leukemia:

  1. Chills or fever
  2. Fatigue, tiring quickly, and weakness that persists
  3. Infections that occur frequently or are severe
  4. Losing weight without making an effort
  5. Lymph node swelling, liver or spleen enlargement
  6. Easy bruising or bleeding
  7. Repeated nosebleeds
  8. Pale skin and shortness of breath
  9. Petechiae: little red spots on the skin.
  10. Sweating excessively, especially at night bone ache or tenderness
  11. The appearance of tiny red spots on the skin 

Leukaemia Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of leukemia are not fully understood, but several factors increase an individual's susceptibility to developing leukaemia. By understanding these factors, we can better assess and mitigate the risks.

Here are some known factors that can increase the risk of developing leukemia:

  1. Genetic Factors: Certain genetic abnormalities or inherited conditions can increase the risk of developing leukemia.
    For example, individuals with Down syndrome have a higher risk of developing leukemia compared to the general population.
  2. Exposure to Radiation: High levels of ionizing radiation, such as radiation therapy for cancer treatment or exposure to nuclear radiation, can increase the risk of developing leukemia.
  3. Chemical Exposure: Certain chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde, have been thought to have an increased risk of leukaemia.
  4. Environmental Triggers: External factors can also influence the development of leukaemia cancer.
    Exposure to certain substances and environmentally hazardous conditions can contribute to the risk. 
  5. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Cigarettes have been known to be one of the potent causes of acute myelogenous leukaemia. 
  6. Prior Cancer Treatments: People who have undergone chemotherapy or other forms of radiation to treat prior cancers are at a higher risk of leukaemia.
  7. Family History: Those with a family history of leukaemia are at a higher probability of developing the disease. 
  8. Myelodysplastic Syndromes: This refers to a bone marrow failure disorder that eventually leads to the development of leukaemia.

Prevention of Leukaemia

It is a bitter truth that nothing can guarantee the prevention of leukaemia cancer. However, to reduce the risk of developing leukaemia, one can involve a combination of the following preventive measures: 

  1. Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Eating a healthy and balanced diet, making regular physical activities a part of the everyday routine, getting sufficient sleep, etc., are crucial elements in reducing the risk of leukaemia. 
  2. Protect Yourself from Radiation: Minimize exposure to ionizing radiation whenever possible. Follow safety guidelines and precautions if you work in environments where radiation exposure is a concern. Limit unnecessary medical imaging tests that involve radiation, and discuss alternative options with your healthcare provider.
  3. Avoid Exposure to Toxins: Certain chemicals and substances such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, and industrial pollutants can increase the risk of leukaemia. 
  4. Vaccinations: Immunizations are an essential part of preventive healthcare. Vaccinations can help prevent certain infections, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), which are associated with a potential risk of leukaemia.
  5. Healthy Habits: Adopting healthy habits, such as practicing good hygiene, maintaining a clean environment, and practicing safe sex, can contribute to overall well-being and reduce the risk of leukaemia.
  6. Regular Medical Check-Ups: Seeking regular medical check-ups and screenings allows for early detection of any potential health concerns.

How is Leukaemia Diagnosed?

In order to determine whether leukaemia is present, a number of examinations and tests must be performed. The typical tests used to identify leukaemia are listed below:

  1. Physical Examination: A healthcare professional will perform a comprehensive physical examination to look for any leukemia-related symptoms or signs.

    They will look for any abnormalities, such as swollen lymph nodes, liver, or spleen.
  2. Blood Tests: Leukaemia must be diagnosed via blood testing. 
    1. To assess the quantity and variety of blood cells, a complete blood count (CBC) will be carried out. 
    2. Unusual numbers of platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells are frequently seen in leukaemia patients. 
    3. A blood smear can also be studied under a microscope to determine the size, shape, and colour of the blood cells.
  3. Bone Marrow Biopsy: In a bone marrow biopsy, a tiny sample of bone marrow is removed from the sternum or hipbone. It is done under local anaesthesia.

    The sample is then inspected under a microscope to find any leukaemia cells present and to ascertain the kind and features of those cells.
  4. Cytogenetic Analysis: To find any genetic anomalies or chromosomal rearrangements, cytogenetic analysis examines the chromosomes of leukaemia cells.

    Determining the particular type of leukaemia with the aid of this information can help with treatment choices.
  5. Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap): The doctor may test a sample of spinal fluid to see if leukaemia has propagated to the spinal fluid associated with your brain and spinal cord.
  6. Imaging Tests: In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to evaluate the extent of the disease and check for any complications.

How to Prepare for Doctor’s Consultation? 

leukaemia is a serious condition, and immediate examination and treatment are a must to ensure the control and management of the problem.

The first step towards diagnosis is the doctor checking the patient's overall health and the normal functioning of their vital organs.

There are some things that the patient must keep in mind to prepare for the doctor’s consultation appointment. These include:

  1. Taking a prior appointment
  2. Enlisting symptoms
  3. Writing down personal information, including medical history
  4. Making a list of questions for the doctor

What to Expect from the Doctor?

The doctor will ask the person some questions that will allow them a proper diagnosis of the problem. Some of the most common questions include : 

  1. The duration for which a person has been experiencing the symptoms
  2. The frequency and severity of the symptoms 
  3. Things that provide relief in the symptoms
  4. Things that worsen the symptoms 

Questions the Patient Can Ask?

A person experiencing unexpected symptoms in their body will certainly have a set of doubts or questions. It is only wise for them to speak with their healthcare provider about the same and clear their doubts and confusions.
The questions they must ask include : 

  1. What are the possible causes of this condition? 
  2. What tests would I need to undergo?
  3. Which is the best treatment for my condition?
  4. Are there any risks involved in the recommended treatment approach?
  5. What is the survival rate of this condition?
  6. How successful is this treatment method to treat my condition?
  7. What dietary and lifestyle changes should I make to prevent this condition? 
  8. Talk about their next follow-up visit and the alternative to prescribed medicines

Leukaemia Treatment

leukaemia treatment is determined by the type of leukaemia, age, and overall health, and whether or not leukaemia has spread to other organs or tissues.

Treatments are usually a combination of the following:

  1. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the most commonly opted for leukaemia treatment. It entails using chemicals to either kill or prevent leukaemia cells from multiplying.

    During treatment, the chemicals (medication) may be administered as a pill, an injection into a vein, or a shot under the skin. Typically, the patient will be given a combination of chemotherapy drugs.
  2. Targeted Therapy: This treatment relies on drugs that are designed to target specific parts of a leukaemia cell (such as a protein or gene) that are causing it to overtake normal blood cells. 
    1. Targeted therapies may prevent leukaemia cells from multiplying, stop their blood supply, or kill them directly. 
    2. Targeted therapy is less likely to harm healthy cells. Monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are two examples of targeted therapy drugs.
  3. Biologic Therapy: Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy. This treatment employs specific drugs to boost the body's defense system to combat leukaemia.

    Immunotherapy assists the immune system in recognizing cancer cells and producing more immune cells to fight them.
  4. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy: This novel therapy engineers the body's infection-fighting T-cells (T-cell or T-lymphocyte is a type of immune cell) to fight leukaemia cells and reintroduce them into the body.
  5. Radiation Treatment: This treatment relies on high-energy beams or X-rays to determine whether it kills or stops the growth of leukaemia cells. 
    1. During treatment, a machine either directs radiation to the exact locations in the body where the cancer cells are located or distributes radiation throughout the entire body. 
    2. Radiation may be administered throughout the body before a hematopoietic cell transplant.
  6. Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: This treatment replaces the cancerous blood-forming cells killed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with new, healthy hematopoietic cells. 
    1. These healthy cells may be extracted from the blood or bone marrow before chemo and radiation or from a donor. 
    2. The healthy new cells multiply, forming new bone marrow and blood cells that become the red blood cells(RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets the body requires.

Cost of Leukaemia Treatment

The cost of leukaemia treatment in India ranges from several factors including the type and stage of leukaemia, type of treatment approach, age of the patient, type, and location of the hospital, and expertise of the treating doctor.

The table below shows the cost of different leukaemia treatment options:

Surgery Name

Surgery Cost


₹75,000 to ₹2,50,000

Targeted Therapy

₹80,000 to ₹2,25,000


₹80,000 to ₹2,25,000

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy

₹1,50,000 to ₹1,75,000

Radiation Treatment

₹60,000 to ₹2,00,000

Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation

₹15,00,000 to ₹27,00,000

Risks and Complications of Leukaemia

Leukemia, like any other serious medical condition, carries certain risks and potential complications.

The specific risks and complications associated with leukemia can vary depending on factors such as the type and stage of the disease, the overall health of the individual, and the treatment approach. 

Here are some common risks and complications associated with leukemia:

  1. Complications of Bone Marrow and Blood: leukaemia disrupts the normal production of blood cells, leading to anemia, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), and compromised immunity.
  2. Complications of Lymphatic System: The lymph nodes, spleen, and other components of the lymphatic system may become enlarged due to leukaemia, causing discomfort and potential complications.
  3. Complications of Central Nervous System: In some cases, leukaemia cells infiltrate the central nervous system.

    This lead to neurological symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, and cognitive changes.
  4. Complications of Liver and Kidneys: leukaemia can affect these vital organs, impair function, and potential complications.
  5. Complications of Heart and Lungs: Certain types of leukaemia can impact the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, resulting in cardiovascular abnormalities or respiratory difficulties.

Risk of Leukaemia if Left Untreated

Delaying leukaemia can seriously affect health and quality of life. Awareness of the potential hazards and problems associated with untreated leukaemia is vital. Here are some significant complications of leukaemia if left untreated:

  1. Disease Growth: Untreated leukaemia will progress swiftly, resulting in the worst symptoms and complications.

    Cancerous cells can continue to increase, invading and affecting the function of many organs.
  2. Increased Risk of Infections: leukaemia weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections which can be severe or life-threatening.
  3. Haemorrhage and Bleeding: Untreated leukaemia can lead to severe bleeding and haemorrhage due to low platelet counts and impaired clotting function.

    Uncontrolled bleeding can be life-threatening and require immediate medical intervention.
  4. Organ Dysfunction: leukaemia if left untreated can affect multiple organs, leading to organ dysfunction.

    Compromised organ function can profoundly impact overall health and quality of life.
  5. Reduced Treatment Options: Delaying or avoiding treatment can limit the effectiveness of available treatment options.

    The disease may progress to an advanced stage, making it more challenging to achieve remission or cure.

When to See a Doctor?

Prioritizing health first and seeking medical help if one experiences any concerning symptoms is essential. leukaemia is a severe medical condition that requires prompt attention from healthcare professionals.

Here are some alarming signs that should prompt one to see a doctor without delay:

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Bleeding or bruising 
  3. Fever or chills
  4. Nose bleeding 
  5. Fatigue and weakness, etc

Diet for Leukaemia

Just like any other health condition, the right diet and routine are sure to play a crucial role in improving the overall health of a person. There are certain foods that a person must consume and some foods that a person must not consume.

The ideal diet for a leukaemia patient consists of the following: 

Food Items to Eat

  1. Foods rich in protein: soy, milk, eggs, tofu, fish, etc.
  2. Foods rich in healthy fats:  seeds, nuts, oils, avocado, olives
  3. Foods rich in carbohydrates: oatmeal, millet, barley, rice, sweet potatoes
  4. Drink plenty of water and other hydrating fluids

Foods to Avoid

  1. Raw bean sprouts
  2. Foods with expiry dates
  3. Undercooked meat, fish, poultry
  4. Unwashed fruits and vegetables 


In conclusion, leukaemia is a complex and serious condition that affects the blood and bone marrow. It is important to understand the stages, symptoms, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and risks associated with leukaemia.

Early detection and prompt medical intervention are crucial for improving outcomes and increasing the chances of successful treatment.

At HexaHealth, we help you not just find the root causes of health problems but also with the diagnosis and treatment of the same. Our medical experts are available round the clock to clear yours.

To learn more about what certain symptoms mean and how they can be treated, and which doctors are best for a particular problem, contact us at HexaHealth today. 

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FAQs for leukaemia

What is leukaemia?

A type of cancer that impacts blood and bone marrow, leukaemia is closely characterized by the production of abnormal white blood cells, disturbing the body's strength to fight infections and other diseases.

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What is leukaemia meaning?

A type of cancer that affects the function and production of blood cells, accurate leukaemia meaning is a kind of cancer that leads to the development of abnormal blood cells. These cells disturb the normal functioning of the body and cause potential complications. 

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What are the symptoms of leukaemia?

The leukaemia symptoms differ from person to person. The most common symptoms include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Swollen lymph nodes
  3. Bleeding
  4. Bruising
  5. Pale skin
  6. Weight loss
  7. Bone or joint pain
  8. Recurrent fevers
  9. Abdominal discomfort
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Are leukaemia red skin spots signs of the advanced stage?

The leukaemia red spots present on the skin are known as petechiae. As a result of low platelet counts, red spots have been known to indicate an advanced stage of cancer, especially acute leukaemia.

However, one must know that cancer is not the only cause of this problem. It can also occur due to infections, medications, or autoimmune diseases.

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What are the causes of leukaemia?

Even though the accurate leukaemia causes are still a mystery, some of the most common leukaemia causes are :

  1. Family history
  2. Chemotherapy and radiation
  3. Excessive alcohol and tobacco use
  4. Genetic factors
  5. Viral infections 
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How is leukaemia diagnosed?

A combination of tests is performed for leukaemia treatment and analysis to understand the problem. These tests include:

  1. Medical history and physical examination
  2. Bone marrow biopsy
  3. Complete blood test, blood smear, cytogenetic analysis
  4. Molecular testing

Some other imaging tests include

  1. X-Rays
  2. CT scans
  3. MRIs
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What does the start of leukaemia red spots indicate?

leukaemia red spots on the skin indicate a significant dip in the platelet count. This is a sign of acute leukaemia that causes other health issues such as clotting, bleeding, etc.

However, it is essential for one to know that red spots on the skin can also take place due to many other factors, such as infections, trauma, medications, etc.

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What are the different types of leukaemia?

One needs to be in that there are several types of leukaemia, and each type can be further divided into many types. However, the different types of leukaemia are :

  1. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  2. Acute myeloid leukaemia
  3. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  4. Chronic myeloid leukaemia
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What is acute leukaemia?

A type of cancer that rapidly develops and quickly progresses acute leukaemia is an abnormal proliferation of undifferentiated or immature white blood cells in the bone marrow. Common symptoms of this condition include:

  1. Infections
  2. Bleeding
  3. Bruising
  4. Bone pain
  5. Swollen lymph nodes
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What are the risk factors for developing leukaemia?

There can be many factors that can boost the risk of developing leukaemia cancer. These are :

  1. Blood disorders
  2. Viral infections
  3. Exposure to chemicals
  4. Exposure to radiation
  5. Family history
  6. Alcohol and tobacco use
  7. Previous cancer treatments, etc.
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Can leukaemia be inherited?

It is vital to know that only because a family member has cancer it does not mean that they will get it too. The majority of the cases of leukaemia are sporadic, which means that they occur due to specific conditions and not because they have been passed from one generation to another.

However, if a person is burdened with it, they must seek the expertise of their healthcare provider.

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What are the treatment options for leukaemia?

The leukaemia treatment depends on the types of leukaemia and leukaemia causes. Some of the most effective and common treatment options for leukaemia are :

  1. Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy
  3. Targeted therapy
  4. Stem cell transplantation
  5. Radiation therapy
  6. Clinical trials
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What are the side effects of leukaemia treatments?

Depending on the type of leukaemia or cancer a person has, there are accurate leukaemia treatments. However, one must know that most of these treatments bring many adverse side effects. These include:

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Hair loss
  3. Fatigue
  4. Increased risk of infections
  5. Anemia
  6. Decreased immune function
  7. Constipation or diarrhea
  8. Mouth sores
  9. Skin changes
  10. Emotional and psychological effects
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Is there a cure for leukaemia?

The word cures holds different meanings when it comes to a condition called leukaemia. While in some cases, a cure might mean complete eradication of cancer, in some cases, it can also render remission or control of the problem to a large extent.

While certain types of cancers can be cured permanently with the help of medications and therapies, some cancers can be highly successful in achieving remission and a high survival rate.

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How long does leukaemia treatment typically last?

The duration of the leukaemia treatment depends on several factors, such as the type of leukaemia a person is suffering from, the stage of the problem, the choice of treatment approach, and the body's response to the treatment.

While certain cancers can be managed within months, some treatments can take up to years. However, for better analysis and information, one must seek the expertise of their healthcare provider.

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What is the prognosis for people with leukaemia?

The prognosis for people with leukaemia depends on several factors. These include:

  1. Individual age and overall health
  2. Disease stage
  3. Treatment response
  4. Molecular and genetic factors

While the prognosis for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has improved distally over the years, the same can not be said for acute myeloid leukaemia. 

The prognosis for chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia is highly variable; the prognosis for chronic myeloid leukaemia has significantly improved.

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What lifestyle changes can help manage leukaemia?

While lifestyle changes alone can not cure leukaemia, they are sure to play a role in managing the problem. It is essential for one to strictly follow the changes suggested by healthcare providers to attain maximum results. The essential lifestyle changes are :

  1. Following the treatment plan
  2. Maintaining a healthy diet
  3. Regular physical exercise or activity
  4. Stress management 
  5. Adequate rest and sleep
  6. Stay away from harmful substances
  7. Maintain hygiene
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Are there any alternative or complementary treatments for leukaemia?

Leukemic is a serious and complex health condition, and medical interventions must be considered seriously depending on the stage and the patient's condition.

However, certain alternative and complementary treatments for leukaemia can be used for managing the problem. These are :

  1. Herbal supplements
  2. Mind-body technique
  3. Acupuncture
  4. Nutritional therapies
  5. Exercises, etc.
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Can leukaemia be prevented?

Since the exact leukaemia causes remain unclear, the ways to prevent leukaemia completely remain challenging.

However, the following factors can help in the management and control of the problem to a great extent. These are :

  1. Protection against infections 
  2. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  3. Avoiding exposure to chemicals and radiation
  4. Genetic counseling, etc.
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Are there any dietary recommendations for leukaemia patients?

Diet and nutrition both play a crucial role in benefiting patients suffering from leukaemia and other types of health disorders. Dietary recommendations for leukaemia patients are a diet balanced rich in:

  1. Whole grains
  2. Fruits
  3. Vegetables
  4. Proteins
  5. Healthy fats

Also, a person needs to stay hydrated and drink the right amounts of fluids throughout the day, as suggested by the healthcare provider.

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How does leukaemia affect children differently from adults?

Different types of leukaemia affect both adults and children. In most cases, the cancers hitting children differ from those hitting adults, creating the biggest differences.

Knowing that differences can arise based on the following factors is crucial.

  1. Type of leukaemia
  2. Prognosis
  3. Response to treatment
  4. Long term effects 
  5. Psychosocial impacts
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What are the common complications associated with leukaemia?

A person suffering from leukaemia will suffer many problems and side effects. Some of the most common complications linked with leukaemia are :

  1. leukaemia weakens the immune system making the patient prone to infections.
  2. A dip in healthy red blood cells can cause anemia.
  3. leukaemia weakens normal blood clotting mechanisms resulting in bleeding and bruising.
  4. leukaemia causes significant fatigue affecting the everyday quality of life.
  5. Causes pain and discomfort, especially in areas where bone marrow is affected.
  6. In cases where it has been spread to other organs, organ dysfunction takes place.
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Can leukaemia come back after successful treatment?

Yes, leukaemia has been known to come back after successful treatment. The condition known as relapse depends on the stage and subtype of cancer, specific characteristics of the cancer cells, and the effectiveness of the treatment.

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Are any support groups or resources available for leukaemia patients and their families?

Yes, several support groups and resources are available for patients suffering from leukaemia and their families.

From connecting patients with others with similar conditions to pricing emotional support, and even financial aid, these support groups have been known to be highly beneficial in many ways. These include :

  1. Cancer support community
  2. Online communities and forums
  3. Local support groups
  4. Hospital-based support groups
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Are there any clinical trials or experimental treatments for leukaemia?

The past years have seen a massive explosion in the field of clinical trials and experimental treatments for leukaemia. These experiments include:

  1. Novel targeted therapies
  2. Stem cell transplantation approaches
  3. Immunotherapies
  4. Combination of chemotherapy drugs

They can be conducted in different phases as per the choice of the person. However, one needs to discuss the potential risks, benefits, complications, etc., with the healthcare providers before one starts with these treatments.

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How does leukaemia affect the body's immune system?

The proper immune system functioning is a crucial role in the body when it comes to fighting infections, foreign substances, and other conditions in the body.

Any type of cancer weakens the proper functioning of the immune system and decreases the production of healthy cells in the body. This, in turn, leads to a significant impact on the body's immunity.

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Can leukaemia be detected through blood tests?

Yes, Blood tests are one of the most essential and effective ways to detect leukaemia. There are different types of blood tests that can help in the diagnosis of the exact problem.

The most common blood tests for leukaemia are:

  1. Complete blood count
  2. Peripheral blood smear
  3. Flow cytometry
  4. Cytogenetic analysis
  5. Molecular testing 
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What are the long-term effects of leukaemia treatments?

Depending on the leukaemia a person has, the stage at which they are on, and the medication and treatment that has been prescribed, there are bound to be long-term effects of the leukaemia treatment.

Some of the most common effects are:

  1. Bone and growth problems
  2. Emotional and psychological challenges
  3. Infertility and reproductive disorders
  4. Cardiac complications
  5. Cognitive and neurocognitive complications, etc.
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Can leukaemia be treated with targeted therapies or immunotherapy?

Yes, both targeted therapies and immunotherapies have emerged as effective choices for leukaemia treatments and have shown significant results in the past few years.

However, one needs to know that these therapies are sued for certain types of leukaemia and may not apply to all types of cancer.

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Can radiation therapy be used to treat leukaemia?

Radiation therapy is definitely used to treat leukaemia. However, it can not and should not be used as a standalone treatment to cure the problem.

It is, in most cases, used in combination with other therapies to obtain the desired results.

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What are the typical chemotherapy drugs used for leukaemia treatment?

A wide variety of drugs are used for different types of cancer. Here is the list of commonly used chemotherapy drugs:

  1. Bendamustine 
  2. Chlorambucil
  3. Fludarabine 
  4. Cyclophosphamide
  5. Rituxan, etc
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What are the potential genetic factors associated with leukaemia?

leukaemia can be associated with environmental and genetic factors. Following is the list of genetic factors closely associated with leukaemia. These are :

  1. Genetic syndromes
  2. Chromosomal abnormalities
  3. Somatic mutations 
  4. Inherited gene mutations 
  5. Genetic variability 
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Are any specific occupational hazards or environmental factors linked to leukaemia?

Yes, there are certain occupational hazards and environmental factors that have been linked to leukaemia. These are :

  1. Excessive exposure to high levels of benzene, a chemical used in the production of plastic, rubber, etc., has been known to contribute to leukaemia.
  2. Exposure to gamma rays and X-Rays adds to the risk of leukaemia.
  3. Chemotherapy and radiation boost the chances of secondary leukaemia.
  4. Exposure to pesticides, organic solvents, etc., elevates the risk of cancer.
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Can leukaemia affect pregnancy or fertility?

Yes, leukaemia can negatively affect both pregnancy and fertility. The factors leaving an impact on both the mother and the fetus are the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the body's reaction to the treatment, etc.

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How does leukaemia progress if left untreated?

A progressive disease, leukaemia, will get worse if left untreated or unattended. The following conditions are sure to take place if treatment is not taken at the right time. These are:

  1. A severe increase in the number of cancer cells.
  2. As the number of cells increases, they can spread in the bloodstream.
  3. Disturb the production of healthy blood cells.
  4. Spread of cancer cells to other areas or organs of the body.
  5. Several health-related complications, such as fatigue, bone or joint pain, weakness, bruising, bleeding, and much more.
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Can leukaemia be detected through imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs?

The primary methods of testing leukaemia are blood tests and bone marrow tests. However, imaging tests such as X-Rays and MRIs can be used to understand the precise complications advocated with the problem.

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Are there any dietary or lifestyle recommendations for leukaemia survivors?

Incorporating the right dietary and lifestyle changes is a must for ensuring the well-being of cancer survivors. the recommendations include:

  1. Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet 
  2. Staying hydrated 
  3. Cutting down on alcohol and tobacco use 
  4. Maintaining the right body weight 
  5. Stress management, etc
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Can leukaemia be detected during a routine physical examination?

Yes, leukaemia can be detected during a routine physical examination. Signs like:

  1. Pale skin
  2. Enlargement of the liver and the spleen
  3. Swelling, etc., can indicate the presence of leukaemia.
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How does leukaemia affect bone marrow function?

leukaemia is sure to have a negative effect on the proper function of the bone marrow.

The leukaemia cells take up the space inside the bone marrow and create disturbance in the development of healthy platelets, red and white blood cells that resemble the many normal functions in the body.

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Can leukaemia be managed through stem cell transplantation?

Stem cell transplantation is a therapeutic approach toward the restoration of impaired organs, tissues, and cells.

There are different types of stem cell transplantation used for treating different types of cancers, and they are beneficial in the management of leukaemia. 

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What are the early warning signs of leukaemia?

Even though the early warning signs of leukaemia vary from case to case, common leukaemia symptoms include the following:

  1. Persistent weakness or fatigue
  2. Recurrent nosebleeds
  3. leukaemia tiny red spots on the skin
  4. Nighttime excessive sweating
  5. Enlarges liver or spleen, swollen lymph nodes
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Can leukaemia cause anemia or other blood disorders?

Yes, leukaemia can be among the potential causes resulting in anemia or blood disorders. leukaemia stubs the production of healthy blood cells and clours the bone marrow with leukaemia cells.

Also, leukaemia treatments create conditions where a person experiences decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, etc., which make it difficult to consume a healthy and iron-rich diet.

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How does leukaemia affect the production of healthy blood cells?

leukaemia is a condition in which leukaemia cells overtake the space of the production of healthy blood cells. This affects the production of healthy blood cells get compromised, resulting in an insufficient supply of oxygen to the different organs of the human body.

This further results in many types of complications.

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Can leukaemia be diagnosed in its early stages?

The early stages of leukaemia are, in most cases, not accompanied by many significant signs and symptoms. However, if a person is careful and watchful about:

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Fatigue
  3. Night sweats
  4. Bleeding
  5. Bruising frequently, etc.,

it is essential for them to consult their healthcare provider. The earlier the problem can be diagnosed, the better the treatment effectiveness. 

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What are the myths versus facts about leukaemia?

  1. Myth: Leukaemia is contagious.
    Fact: Leukaemia is not a contagious disease. It does not spread from one individual to another individual through casual contact or close proximity. 
  2. Myth: Only older adults can develop leukaemia.
    Fact: While leukaemia is more commonly diagnosed in adults, it can affect individuals of all ages, including children and young adults. 
  3. Myth: Leukaemia means life-threatening conditions.
    Fact: While leukaemia is a serious condition, it is not always life-threatening. Advances in medical science have significantly improved treatment outcomes and survival rates for leukaemia patients. 
  4. Myth: Leukaemia is solely caused by genetics.
    Fact: While genetic factors can contribute to the development of leukaemia, they are not the sole cause. In many cases, the exact cause of leukaemia remains unknown. 
  5. Myth: Leukaemia is completely curable.
    Fact: Currently, there are no known strategies to prevent leukaemia entirely. However, certain healthy lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk of developing leukaemia and other cancers.
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All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Leukemia Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Options| Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2019.link
  2. National Cancer Institute. Leukemia—Patient Version [Internet]. National Cancer Institute. Cancer.gov; 2019.link
  3. Leukemia [Internet]. Medlineplus.gov. National Library of Medicine; 2019.link
  4. Leukemia survival rates by age [Internet]. www.medicalnewstoday.com.link
  5. Mayo Clinic. Leukemia - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2021.link
  6. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Risk Factors for Leukemia [Internet]. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 2019.link
  7. Leukemia Prevention: Tips, Facts, and More [Internet]. Healthline. 2021link
  8. Mayo Clinic. 7 healthy habits that can reduce your risk of cancer [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2021.link
  9. Mayo Clinic. Leukemia - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayoclinic.org. 2021.link
  10. Khaddour K, Hana CK, Mewawalla P. Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021.link
  11. Side Effects of Leukemia: Why They Occur & How to Relieve Them [Internet]. Healthline. 2021.link
  12. Acute myeloid lukemia complications: Physical and mental [Internet]. www.medicalnewstoday.com. 2021.link
  13. 6 Common Myths About Leukemia [Internet]. Hematology Advisor. 2020.link
  14. Chemotherapy Drugs for Chronic Lymphocyte Leukemia: How They Work [Internet]. Healthline. 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 10].link
  15. Blood cancer myths and facts [Internet]. The New Indian Express. [cited 2023 Jun 10].link

Updated on : 12 March 2024


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