Leukaemia is a form of cancer that starts in cells that are likely to develop into different types of blood cells. Leukaemia usually develops in white blood cells (WBCs) but it can also possibly grow in other types of blood cells.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood rapidly. Bone marrow is the spongy, soft inner part present in some of the bones in our body, where new blood cells ( RBCs, WBCs, and platelets) are formed through stem cells. AML prevents the bone marrow from generating healthy blood cells and the body is thus unable to fight off infections or stop bleeding. If left untreated, it can spread to other body parts such as liver, lymph nodes, testicles, brain, spinal cord and turn into a life-threatening condition.
The symptoms of Acute Myeloid Leukemia can sometimes be non-specific in nature and therefore, make the diagnosis at an early stage difficult. In most cases, AML begins with flu-like symptoms, including :
Unusual bleeding and bruising
Swollen liver and spleen
Loss and appetite and unexplained weight loss
Red spots on the skin
More infections than usual
Some other, more specific symptoms of AML can include :
Swelling in abdomen
Difficulty in maintaining balance
A risk factor is something that affects your chances of developing a disease. Doctors are often not sure as to what particularly caused AML but there definitely are some factors that increase your chances of developing it, which include :
Smoking. This is a lifestyle-related risk factor for AML. The cancerous substances in the smoke of tobacco are absorbed by the lungs and spread through the bloodstream.
Family history of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Exposure to radiation. People who have been exposed to higher than normal amounts of radiation (through nuclear reactor accidents, atomic blasts, cancer radiation treatments) are at a higher risk of developing AML.
Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene, pesticides and ionizing radiation.
Genetic Syndromes such as Down syndrome, trisomy 8, neurofibromatosis type 1, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
Certain blood conditions
Bone marrow transplant (BMT) or blood stem cell transplant is often used in treating patients with AML. It basically involves the replacement of malfunctioning blood-forming cells with healthy ones. In some cases, the bone marrow transplant can also cure cancer.
There are different types of transplant for AML, the most common being allogeneic transplant. It replaces the unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy cells, which can be donated by either a family member or an unrelated donor. The healthy cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood in some cases.
The first step is chemotherapy for killing the unhealthy cells and after that, the healthy cells are placed in the body through intravenous (IV) catheter. The healthy cells make their way to the inside of the bones and start making healthy blood cells.
Where can I find the best hospital for a bone marrow transplant in India?
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