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Leukemia

Integrative Treatment Options for All Stages of Leukemia

Leukemia Holistic Treatment Center

Leukemia is a malignancy of the blood. It starts in the blood stem cells found in the red bone marrow and eventually spreads all over the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic system.

New cases of leukemia occur at a rate of about 14 per 100,000 adults annually. As of 2019, nearly 500,000 Americans were living with leukemia, and an estimated 1.5% of the U.S. adult population will be diagnosed with the disease at some point during their lifetime. Survival-wise, 65.7% of patients live through the first five years after diagnosis.

Leukemia also affects children of all ages. Although childhood leukemia is rare, it's still the most common cancer among children and teens, accounting for a third of all cancer cases among youngsters.

What Causes Leukemia?

Leukemia starts in the red bone marrow, where blood cells are made through a process called hematopoiesis. On average, our body makes about 400 billion platelets (thrombocytes), 200 billion red blood cells (erythrocytes), and 10 billion white blood cells (leukocytes) daily. These new cells continuously replace dead, aging, damaged, and dysfunctional blood cells.

To make all these cells, hematopoietic stem cells in the red bone marrow differentiate into two percussor blood cells — myeloblasts and lymphoblasts. Myeloblasts divide further into platelets, erythrocytes, and specialized leukocytes (monocytes and granulocytes). Meanwhile, lymphoblasts mature into B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes, and natural killer immune cells.

Hematopoiesis is a massive enterprise involving billions of cell division sequences (mitosis) at any moment. Critical errors, particularly in DNA replication, are bound to happen during such a vast scale of mitosis. But each cell division sequence has several checkpoints that flag these errors and order the affected cell to stop dividing and either repair itself or self-destruct (apoptosis). However, genetic errors or mutations can sometimes slip past these checkpoints. And if those undetected errors build up and happen to affect the genes responsible for controlling cell growth, a leukemic cell is born.

Instead of differentiating into fully specialized blood cells, leukemic cells start proliferating rapidly and uncontrollably, endlessly making more copies of immature, dysfunctional, and apoptosis-immune blood cells. These cancerous blast cells accumulate in the red bone marrow and compromise its functions before flooding the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Once in the blood and lymph fluid, the leukemic cells spread to nearly every part of the body.

 

What Are the Different Types of Leukemia?

Leukemia can start in either myeloblasts or lymphoblasts. Hence the two main categories of leukemia: myelogenous leukemia, which occurs in myeloblasts, and lymphocytic leukemia, which begins in lymphoblasts.

Additionally, the disease is described as "acute" or "chronic." Acute leukemia progresses rapidly, and its symptoms are more pronounced. This is because it affects fast-dividing blast cells during the early stages of hematopoiesis. Patients with acute leukemia require aggressive and prompt treatment at the first indication of the disease. On the other hand, chronic leukemia develops gradually and is characterized by a slow onset of mild symptoms. Chronic leukemia starts in nearly mature blast cells during the late stages of hematopoiesis. Treatment of chronic leukemia can span over several years.

This brings us to the four main types of leukemia:

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) – The most common type of leukemia in adults. The average age at diagnosis in the U.S. is 69 years.
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) – A rare malignancy that mainly affects children under the age of five years. It accounts for less than 0.5% of all cancers in the U.S.
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) – Occurs in people of all ages, although the median age at diagnosis is 64 years. However, CML is rare in teens and children.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – Mostly affects older adults and is rarely found in people under 40. The average age at diagnosis is 70 years.

Other rare types of leukemia do exist, such as systemic mastocytosis, hairy cell leukemia (HCL), and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).

What Are the Symptoms of Leukemia?

Symptoms vary widely depending on the type of leukemia and how far the disease has progressed. Early-stage leukemia is generally asymptomatic. The condition only becomes noticeable when leukemic blast cells begin to overrun the red bone marrow, lymphoid organs, or the circulation system. Remember, leukemic cells exist and proliferate at the expense of healthy blood cells.

In general, most leukemia patients present with the following symptoms once the disease develops beyond the asymptomatic phase:

  • Blunt bone and joint pain, particularly around the hips, sternum, neck, and shoulders.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
  • Abdominal swelling and discomfort due to an enlarged liver or spleen.
  • Small red spots under the skin (petechiae).
  • Abnormal high susceptibility to bruising and bleeding.
  • High frequency and reoccurrence of viral infections such as the flu and shingles.
  • Painless bumps under the skin.
  • Night sweats, chills, and fevers.
  • Anemic symptoms (dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, pale skin, etc.).
  • Poor appetite accompanied by early satiety and dramatic weight loss.
  • Once the cancer reaches the brain, the patient may experience various neurological issues such as hallucinations, headaches, seizures, and nervous system disorders.

Clinical Diagnosis of Leukemia

Most cases of leukemia are diagnosed accidentally when a doctor notices abnormally low blood count during routine checkups or blood tests for other diseases. Unlike most cancers, leukemia does not form tumors. So, screening for leukemia revolves around looking for evidence of cancerous blast cells in the blood, lymph fluid, or bone marrow.

We run the following tests to confirm a leukemia diagnosis:

  • Blood tests – A complete blood count (CBC) is usually the first test for leukemia. Other more sophisticated blood tests may follow if the CBC indicates abnormal levels of platelets, erythrocytes, or leukocytes.
  • Bone marrow aspiration – Bone marrow fluid is extracted from the hip bone for lab examination. This is done using a fine needle.
  • Bone marrow biopsy – It is similar to a bone marrow aspiration, except, in this case, a sample of the bone marrow tissue itself is extracted.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) – The doctor draws a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the patient’s spinal canal and checks it for evidence of leukemia.
  • Chromosome tests – Genetic tests such as cytogenetics, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) are used to confirm leukemic DNA mutations in sample blast cells and predict prognosis.
  • Imaging tests – X-ray, PET, ultrasound, CAT, and MRI scans can help reveal the extent of the disease by checking vital organs such as the brain, spine, lymph nodes, and long bones for leukemia-related abnormalities.

After a positive diagnosis, the disease is assigned one of the following stages to indicate its development:

  • Stage 0 – Elevated lymphocyte count
  • Stage 1 – Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Stage 2 – Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Stage 3 – Anemic stage
  • Stage 4 – Terminal stage

Holistic Treatment of Leukemia with Brio-Medical

Leukemia is highly treatable and easily manageable if detected and addressed during the early stages. But in most cases, palliative care is the only treatment option for patients in the terminal stage of the disease.

There are several effective ways to treat leukemia, of course, depending on the diagnosis and staging. For the most part, leukemia is treated using chemotherapy drugs, sometimes in conjunction with other more aggressive measures such as blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants. But Brio-Medical offers a safer and less invasive approach to treating leukemia.

Our team of cancer and wellness experts focuses on natural holistic remedies that stimulate the body to heal itself from within. Brio-Medical's wide range of holistic medicine for leukemia includes:

These and many other alternative cancer remedies can be used alongside mainstream medicine to boost the patient’s response to treatment, lower harmful dosages, and minimize the inherent side effects of aggressive medication. We also have mind and wellness therapies that boost and preserve the patient's well-being during the difficult treatment, recovery, or palliative period.

But enough about us; we'd love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions about leukemia or natural cancer treatments in general.

References

  1. National Cancer Institute. “Cancer Stat Facts: Leukemia.” The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Statistics. Accessed September 15, 2022.
  2. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. “Key Statistics for Childhood Leukemia.” Cancer A-Z. Last Revised: January 12, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022.
  3. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Blood cell formation." Encyclopedia Britannica. November 8, 2021. Accessed September 15, 2022.
  4. Jagannathan-Bogdan, Madhumita, and Leonard I Zon. “Hematopoiesis.” Development (Cambridge, England) vol. 140,12 (2013): 2463-7. doi:10.1242/dev.083147.
  5. Oran, Betul, and Daniel J Weisdorf. “Survival for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia: a population-based study.” Haematologica vol. 97,12 (2012): 1916-24. doi:10.3324/haematol.2012.066100.
  6. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. “Key Statistics for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).” Cancer A-Z. Last Revised: January 12, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022.
  7. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. “Key Statistics for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.” Cancer A-Z. Last Revised: January 12, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022.
  8. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. “Key Statistics for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.” Cancer A-Z. Last Revised: January 12, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022.
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