Leukemia is a cancer that has had a significant effect on our society and
with the developments of new drugs it may become treatable. Leukemia originates in
the blood-forming organs which may include the lymph tissue and bone cells. In
a person with leukemia the rate and the number of cells produced is altered.
This altering can become fatal, or with proper treatment it can be subdued.
There are two main types of leukemia which include "total" and
"differential." These are mainly characterized by the appearance of white blood
cells. When leukemia attacks the blood cells, the bone marrow (where blood
cells are made), the spleen, and the lymph nodes are extremely weakened (Reagan
90). The classification of leukemia is based on what organ it is attacking.
Leukemia can be in acute or chronic form, which means it can happen rapidly, or
be prolonged and severe (Bourne 996). To diagnose leukemia doctors have to
insert a needle into the bone marrow to extract it and then then view it under a
microscope to see if it has any abnormalities that relate to that of leukemia.
Some of the symptoms that are involved with leukemia include: lack of energy,
fever, susceptibility to infection (because of lack of white blood cells),
excessive or repetitive bleeding, easy bruising, and also enlargement of the
liver, spleen and lymph nodes (997).
This disease has been known to cause about "10% of all cancer deaths,
about 50% of all cancer deaths in children and adults less than 30 years old,
and at least 4 million people now living are expected to die from these forms of
cancer (Reagan 1)." Over half of every type of leukemia occurs in people over
the age of 60. Even though so many people have been getting different types of
leukemia, the causes are not totally known. There is evidence that exposure to
radiation can reduce the development of leukemia. Also, a genetic inheritance
has been shown to be a factor in the incidences of leukemia and sometimes it is
seen accompanying birth defects (Altman and Sarg 154).
With the problems that surround leukemia and the probability of death
there are ways to treat it. Most of these treatments have only developed
recently and are still undergoing testing. But a few drugs have been shown to
produce a state in which the patients shows no sign of cancer. One of these
drugs is 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine, which kills the bad white blood cells, but
leaves the good. "In 1990...patients treated with this new drug for just one
week were in complete long-term remission (Weaver 29)." This long-term could
very probably last forever until the patient dies and the leukemia reappears
again. Another drug called DCF, when tested on patients, "brought about
complete remission in 104 of a 152 of them (Fackelmann 363)." Other researchers
also noted that they would have to wait over 10 years to know for sure if the
patients would have a relapse (363). In addition to these drugs, many other
powerful drugs are used to remedy leukemia and, chemotherapy is also a treatment.
The two drugs mentioned before remain to be presently the closest thing to a
cure for all types of leukemia.
In conclusion, leukemia is a cancer that has affected many people\'s
lives and remains to be a frightening disorder that we have to deal with in the
medical world. Fortunately, it looks like a hopeful future with the
developments of new drugs. Maybe, with the increase in technology and new
medicines we may someday surpass present day treatments and find a complete cure
for leukemia.


Altman, Robert and Michael Sarg. The Cancer Dictionary. NY: Facts on File Co.,
1992: 153-155.

Bourne, Sarah. "Leukemia." Marshal Cavendish. NY: Marshal Cavendish, 1993:

Fackelmann, Kathy A. "New Treatments For Hairy Cell Leukemia." Science News
30 May 1992: 363.

Reagan, Reginold. "Leukemia." The Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia. 1990 ed.:

Weaver, Daniel. "The Secret In The Marrow." Discover. January 1994: 26-29.

Category: Science