As with other types of cancer, there's currently no cure for leukemia. People with leukemia sometimes experience remission, a state after diagnosis and treatment in which the cancer is no longer detected in the body. However, the cancer may recur due to cells that remain in your body.
If caught early, leukemia can be cured by undergoing several cancer treatments.
If this disease is left untreated, a person with leukemia becomes increasingly susceptible to fatigue, excessive bleeding and infections until, finally, the body becomes virtually defenseless, making every minor injury or infection very serious. Leukemia may be fatal.
People may receive maintenance therapy to help keep the cancer in remission, but chronic leukemia can seldom be cured with chemotherapy. However, stem cell transplants offer some people with chronic leukemia the chance for cure.
Generally, about 7 out of 10 people will survive their leukaemia for 5 years or more after being diagnosed. Younger, healthier people who are diagnosed when CLL is still in the early stages generally have the best outlook. Although it cannot normally be cured, treatment can help control the condition for many years.
Infections and anemia are the major causes of death in leukemic patients. Untreated, acute leukemia has an aggressive course, with death occurring within 6 months or less.
How leukemia forms. In general, leukemia is thought to occur when some blood cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material or DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. Normally, the DNA tells the cell to grow at a set rate and to die at a set time.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can rarely be cured. Still, most people live with the disease for many years. Some people with CLL can live for years without treatment, but over time, most will need to be treated. Most people with CLL are treated on and off for years.
Chemotherapy is the major form of treatment for leukemia. This drug treatment uses chemicals to kill leukemia cells. Depending on the type of leukemia you have, you may receive a single drug or a combination of drugs. These drugs may come in a pill form, or they may be injected directly into a vein.
Recovery from leukemia is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal. This diagnosis is stressful because the disease is not curable, and for many people, advanced ALL is difficult to discuss.
Chronic leukemia usually gets worse slowly, over months to years, while acute leukemia develops quickly and progresses over days to weeks. The two main types of leukemia can be further organized into groups that are based on the type of white blood cell that is affected — lymphoid or myeloid.
The 5-year survival rate for people age 20 and older is 40%. The 5-year survival rate for people under age 20 is 89%. Recent advances in treatment have significantly lengthened the lives of people with ALL. However, survival rates depend on several factors, including biologic features of the disease and a person's age.
Stage 1 – A patient has high levels of white blood cells and enlarged lymph nodes. Stage 2 – A patient has high levels of white blood cells and is anemic. He or she may also have enlarged lymph nodes. Stage 3 – A patient has high levels of white blood cells and is anemic.
Leukemia can prevent white blood cells from fighting infections and cause them to multiply uncontrollably. This overgrowth can cause overcrowding of the healthy blood cells, leading to severe problems throughout the body.
Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells (also called leukocytes or WBCs) fight infections and other diseases. In leukemia, the bone marrow (spongy material inside the bones) makes many white blood cells that aren't normal.
There are no foods that can treat or cure leukemia, but some can help with side effects and reduce the risk of complications. People undergoing treatment for leukemia should avoid certain supplements, such as St John's wort.
Usually, you'll receive a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Immunotherapy (biologic therapy): This treatment uses certain drugs to boost your body's defense system — your immune system — to fight leukemia. Immunotherapy helps your immune system identify cancer cells and produce more immune cells to fight them.
CLL has a very high incidence rate in people older than 60 years. CLL affects men more than women. If the disease has affected the B cells, the person's life expectancy can range from 10 to 20 years.
Chemo treatment for ALL is typically divided into 3 phases: Induction, which is short and intensive, usually lasts about a month. Consolidation (intensification), which is also intensive, typically lasts for a few months. Maintenance (post-consolidation), which is less intensive, typically lasts for about 2 years.
The slow-growing form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the least serious type of leukemia. It is a disease of older people; the average age at diagnosis is around 71.
Leukemia can cause a range of symptoms. You might feel weak, dizzy, and nauseous. You might also notice that you're bruising very easily or that your skin is very pale. These various symptoms happen because leukemia affects different parts of your body.
Clinical and epidemiological studies have shown that stress-related biobehavioral factors are associated with accelerated progression of several types of cancer, including solid epithelial tumors and hematopoietic tumors such as leukemia (Antoni et al., 2006; Chida et al., 2008).