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The term blood cancer or leukemia actually describes a group of cancers involving an excess of white blood cells. In blood cancer, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. Unlike normal blood cells, leukemia cells don't die when they should. They may crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This makes it hard for normal blood cells to do their work.
In chronic leukemia, blood stem cells are affected at a late stage of differentiation, which means that the cells that abnormally multiply are almost mature. They occur most of the time in adult.
Based on the function of the kind of cells affected, there are two types of chronic leukemia:
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: It affects lymphocytes and leads to an abnormally high number of lymphocytes in the blood. It occurs most of the time in old patients and evolves slowly.
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia: It affects neutrophils. It's the only leukemia for which hereditary cause has been proved. Indeed, this cancer is due to the formation into the cells of a "hybrid" chromosome formed by the union of two chromosomes. This new abnormal chromosome, called Philadelphia chromosome, lead to the synthesis of an abnormal protein called bcr-abl, which is responsible for the cancerous evolution of blood stem cells. With this leukemia, there is a risk of progression into the acute form.
In acute leukemia, blood stem cells are affected at an early stage of differentiation, and these immature cells that abnormally proliferate are called blast cells. They can go into the blood stream.
As for chronic leukemia, we can encounter:
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: It affects the immature lymphocytes and occurs most of the time in children.
- Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia: It affects all other immature cells in the bone marrow (red blood cells, platelets and neutrophils).
Treatments and Procedures
Treatment for leukemia is complex. The treatment depends not only on the type of leukemia, but also on certain features of the leukemia cells, the extent of the disease, and whether the leukemia has been treated before. It also depends on the patient's age, symptoms and general health. Three methods for blood cancer treatment are:
- Bone Marrow Transplantation: It is a way of allowing doctors to use very large doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to kill the cancerous cells. It is currently preferred in some centers to use peripheral blood stem cells from the donor. A second option is the Graft-versus-Leukemia effect, where the cells from the new marrow recognize the leukemia cells as cancerous and kill them.
- Radiotherapy (also called radiation therapy): Energy rays like X-rays to stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying. This may be directed to a specific part of the body like the spleen, or to the whole body, usually as preparation for a bone marrow transplant.
- Biological Therapy: Also called immunotherapy, it involves treatment with substances that affect the immune system's ability to destroy cancer cells. The two available types of biological therapy are Interferon, which stimulates the immune system to kill cancer cells, and monoclonal antibodies, which stick to cancer cells to draw the immune system's attention to them. These are usually used in the chronic rather than the acute leukemia.
Apart from surgery and chemotherapy, the new age technology used to treat blood cancer include Radiology and Radiation Oncology, which are advanced imaging technology that can be used to detect blood cancer.
Technologies for detection of cancer:
- Computerized Tomography (CT)
- Nuclear Medicine
- PET Fusion
New cutting-edge equipments include the CyberKnife® robotic radiosurgery, which are at the cutting edge of this technology – both offering pain-free non-invasive treatment with far greater accuracy and speed. Other leading edge treatment technologies available include:
- Robotic Surgical System
- Trilogy Image Guided Radiation Therapy System (IGRT)
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy System (IMRT)
The oncology clinic is comprised of physicians dedicated to treating blood cancer and metastases to the system with the latest technology. Because our physicians are specialists in oncology, hematology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology and blood cancer treatment, you can rest assured you’re receiving the best care available. We work with specialists in other areas of care when necessary to give you a comprehensive approach to treatment of blood cancer. OMEGA offers the latest and most advanced blood cancer treatments in India. In fact, it is one of the best oncology services in India.