The term leukemia is derived from leucocytes, and it is called blood cancer in layman's terms.
What is blood?
Blood consists of two things in it. On part of the liquid part called plasma (45%) and blood cells (55%) we can imagine blood as a fluid where blood cells are suspended.
What is cancer?
Cancer is the condition in which body has lost control over the multiplication of cells and the cells starts multiplying abnormally and in a very rapid and uncontrolled manner. In Leukemia, the cells that are present in the blood start increasing abnormally and this causes the function of blood to be disrupted. Now the question arises as to what the harm is, if our blood cells increase.
First we will discuss what role does blood play in our body
1. RBC (red blood cells) - carry oxygen to body tissues and so are very important in the supply of nutrients and Oxygen to all the tissues.
2. WBC (white blood cells, also called leucocytes) - provide immunity against pathogens that try to enter our body and in fact play a great role in the immunity of the person to various kinds of infections.
3. Platelets (smallest blood cells) - clot the blood during injury preventing excessive blood loss. This is a very important function because if the platelets were not there, any injury would cause excessive bleeding and so death can occur.
In leukemia, though the number of the cells in the body increases, these cells are incapable of performing their specific role. During leukemia all the functions of the blood start declining and ultimately cease as the disease progresses.
Therefore patients suffering from leukemia will have symptoms like fever and recurrent infections (due to lack of immunity) & weakness and excessive blood loss (since blood is incapable of clotting). These are just the starting of the various symptoms of Leukemia because each infection in the person can cause different kinds of signs and symptoms and may be difficult to even diagnose.
The normal blood cells are formed from their embryonic cells called stem cells of red bone marrow present inside flat bones like vertebrae and shoulder bones.
Two types of stem cells are present. One is the lymphoid cell which develop into white blood cells and the other is the myeloid stem cells which develop into RBC and platelets
Any abnormal change in these stem cells leads to uncontrolled proliferation of blood cells.
In normal people these stem cells has an average rate of multiplication according to body's own need of blood. In leukemic patients stem cells do not respond to body needs and begin producing immature and non functional blood cells. This further compounds the problem because there are some new cells that are in place, but the fact is that these cells are not at all useful for the person because, as the name indicates, these cells are non functional and so cannot perform any of the normal functions of the normal cells that they are supposed to do.
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