The leukemia doctor, also known as a bone marrow cancer specialist, is cognizant not only of the treatments for leukemia available to the patient but also the side effects of these treatments. Leukemia is a cancer that infuses bone marrow or blood, and its symptoms are characteristic of its most malignant feature, an increase of white blood cells, all new or immature, which crowd out the bloodstream and bone marrows ability to produce healthy red blood cells; in many cases, treatment, if it succeeds at all, must be immediate, as the build-up of these new white blood cells is incredibly rapid, particularly in acute leukemia, which is most prevalent in children.Chronic leukemia, where white blood cells of a relatively more mature sort are produced, can take several months or years to progress, but can still result in fatality without treatment.
Consumers... click HERE to find a local professional through our friends at eLocal
Symptoms, side effects found in leukemia
The reduction of red blood cells means a lack of blood platelets in the patients system, so one of the side effects of leukemia is that clotting of the blood is impeded. Bruising, excessively bleeding (external and internal) and petechiae (pinpricks of blood) are often evident. The immune system, without mature white blood cells, often cannot fight off invasive diseases, meaning that patients experience frequent infections, even as extensive as pneumonia, one of the more severe and unfortunate side effects of leukemia.
Treatment side effects of leukemia
More pronounced and sometimes more severe than the effects of the disease, as the leukemia doctor will caution the patient, are the side effects of leukemia treatment.
Leukemia is primarily treated via chemotherapy, particularly acute leukemia, which cannot wait for a more lengthy treatment regimen of medication and milder treatments. Unfortunately, one of the most several side effects of leukemia treatment is the treatment itselfit is virtually impossible to exclusively destroy leukemia cells in the process, so healthy cells, even healthy tissues, can be adversely affected.
Blood, hair root and digestive tract cells can all suffer extensive damage as a result of extended chemotherapy, and the same low resistance to infection that characterized the patients abnormal white blood cell structure in the first place will be present again. In addition to the low resistance to infection and disease, the patient may feel him/herself in a revolving door, as once again bleeding and easy bruising will manifest themselves, this time as side effects of the chemotherapy.
In addition, women may have menopausal symptoms that resemble hot flashes and dryness of the vagina; men may cease to produce sperm (most physicians do caution male patients to have their sperm frozen and preserved if they wish to procreate via insemination after chemo).
Universally, the reaction to radiation and chemotherapy is fatigue; the doctor who knows his patients resistance levels may advise rest or may advise more activity, depending on the factors involved in recovery.Hair loss is sometimes pronounced, as well as nausea and loss of desire for food.The treating physician can offer the cold comfort that most such effects, although excoriating, are temporary.
The leukemia doctor should certainly also offer supportive care options in post-leukemia treatment; there should be frequent office visits and examinations, as well as vaccinations against infections such as influenza and pneumonia. The patient may need a period of isolation for his/her own immune systems protection; s/he may need transfusions, since anemic symptoms often manifest themselves post-chemo as well. Finally, dental health may be compromised; dental care both before and after chemotherapy may be indicated. Proper nutrition, mild exercise and proper amounts of rest and medical observation are usually the watchwords for any patient recovering from leukemia, particularly in acute cases.