Leukemia - diagnosis and treatment (2023)


bone marrow test

Leukemia - diagnosis and treatment (1)

bone marrow test

During a bone marrow biopsy, a healthcare professional uses a thin needle to remove a small amount of liquid bone marrow, usually from a point on the back of the hip bone (pelvis). Bone marrow biopsy is usually performed at the same time. In this second procedure, a small piece of bone tissue and the bone marrow that is trapped inside is removed.

Doctors can diagnose chronic leukemia with a routine blood test before symptoms appear. If this happens, or if you have signs or symptoms that suggest leukemia, you may have the following diagnostic tests done:

  • Physical examination.Your doctor will look for physical signs of leukemia, such as pale skin due to anemia, swollen lymph nodes, and an enlarged liver and spleen.
  • blood tests.By examining a blood sample, your doctor can tell if you have abnormal levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets — which could indicate leukaemia. A blood test can also show the presence of leukemia cells, although not all types of leukemia cause leukemia cells to circulate in the blood. Sometimes the leukemia cells remain in the bone marrow.
  • bone marrow testYour doctor may recommend a procedure for taking a bone marrow sample from your hip bone. Bone marrow is removed with a long, thin needle. The sample is sent to a lab to look for leukemia cells. Special tests of your leukemia cells can reveal certain characteristics that are used to determine your treatment options.

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Treatment for your leukemia depends on many factors. Your doctor will determine your leukemia treatment options based on your age and general health, the type of leukemia you have, and whether it has spread to other parts of your body, including your central nervous system.

Common treatments used to fight leukemia include:

  • Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is the main form of treatment for leukemia. This drug treatment uses chemicals to kill leukemia cells.

    Depending on the type of leukemia you have, you may be given a single drug or a combination of drugs. These drugs can be in pill form or injected directly into a vein.

  • Targeted Therapy.Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can lead to the death of cancer cells. Your leukemia cells will be tested to see if targeted therapy might help you.
  • Radiotherapy.Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy rays to damage leukemia cells and stop them from growing. During radiation therapy, you lie on a table while a large machine moves around you, directing radiation to precise points on your body.

    You can receive radiation to a specific area of ​​your body where leukemia cells are building up, or you can receive radiation to your entire body. Radiation therapy can be used to prepare for a bone marrow transplant.

  • bone marrow transplant.A bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant, helps restore healthy stem cells by replacing unhealthy bone marrow with leukemia-free stem cells that regenerate healthy bone marrow.

    Before a bone marrow transplant, you will be given very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy the leukemia-producing bone marrow. You will then be given an infusion of blood-forming stem cells that help rebuild your bone marrow.

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    You can get stem cells from a donor or use your own stem cells.

  • immunotherapy.Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. Your body's disease-fighting immune system may not attack the cancer because cancer cells make proteins that help them hide from immune cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with this process.
  • Development of immune cells to fight leukemia.A special treatment called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy takes your body's germ-fighting T cells, evolves them to fight cancer, and infuses them back into your body.AUTO-T cell therapy may be an option for certain types of leukemia.
  • Clinical Trials.Clinical trials are experiments to test new cancer treatments and new ways of using existing treatments. Although clinical trials give you or your child a chance to try the latest cancer treatment, the benefits and risks of any treatment can be uncertain. Discuss the benefits and risks of clinical trials with your doctor.

More information

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Being diagnosed with leukemia can be devastating — especially for the family of a newly diagnosed child. Over time, you will find ways to deal with the fear and uncertainty of cancer. Until then, the following may help you:

  • Learn enough about leukemia to make decisions about your care.Ask your doctor about your leukemia, including your treatment options and, if desired, your prognosis. The more you learn about leukemia, the more confident you can make treatment decisions.

    The term "leukemia" can be confusing as it refers to a group of cancers that are not very similar except that they affect the bone marrow and blood. You can waste a lot of time looking for information that doesn't apply to your type of leukemia. To avoid this, ask your doctor to write down as much information about your specific illness as possible. Then limit your search for information accordingly.

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  • Keep friends and family close.Keeping your intimate relationships strong will help you cope with your leukemia. Friends and family can provide you with the practical support you need, such as B. Helping you take care of your household when you are in hospital. And they can serve as emotional support when you're feeling overwhelmed by cancer.
  • Find someone to talk to.Find a good listener who is willing to listen to you as you share your hopes and fears. It could be a friend or family member. The concern and understanding of a counselor, medical social worker, member of the clergy, or cancer support group may also be helpful.

    Ask your doctor about support groups in your area. Or check your phone book, library, or a cancer organization like the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

  • Watch after.It's easy to get caught up in the tests, treatments, and therapy procedures. But it's important to take care of yourself, not just the cancer. Try making time for yoga, cooking, or other favorite activities.

Prepare for your appointment

Start by seeing your GP if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects that you have leukaemia, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in blood and bone marrow disorders (haematologists).

Because appointments can be brief and there is often a lot of information to discuss, it's a good idea to be prepared. Here's some information to help you prepare and know what to expect from your doctor.

What can you do

  • Please note any pre-booking restrictions.When making an appointment, be sure to ask if there is anything you need to do, e.g. B. Restricting your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you haveincluding people who appear unrelated to the reason you booked the appointment.
  • Write down important personal information,including major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medicationsVitamins or supplements you are taking.
  • Consider bringing a family member or friend with you.It can sometimes be difficult to remember all the information given during an appointment. Someone accompanying you may remember something you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions you want to askyour doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so making a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. In case you run out of time, list your questions from most important to least important. For leukemia, some basic questions to ask your doctor are:

  • do i have leukemia
  • What type of leukemia do I have?
  • Do I need more tests?
  • Does my leukemia need immediate treatment?
  • What are the treatment options for my leukemia?
  • Can any treatment cure my leukemia?
  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment option?
  • Is there a treatment that you think is best for me?
  • How will the treatment affect my daily life? Can I continue to work or study?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I consult a specialist? How much does it cost and will my insurance cover it?
  • Are there brochures or other printed matter that I can take with me? Which sites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions you'd like to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. If you're willing to answer them, you can have more time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you start having symptoms?
  • Were your symptoms continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What seems to make your symptoms worse?
  • Have you ever had abnormal blood counts? If so, when?

By Mayo Clinic staff

21. September 2022

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