What might be cause of recent increase in leukemia cases in Nigeria


Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that is caused by an increase in the number of white blood cells in the body.

White blood cells squeeze out the red blood cells and platelets that your body requires to function properly. The additional white blood cells are ineffective. 

Four main types of leukaemia 

  1. Acute lymphocytic leukaemia: is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

The word “acute” in acute lymphocytic leukemia comes from the fact that the disease progresses rapidly and creates immature blood cells, rather than mature ones.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the commonest child- hood malignancy worldwide, outside of malaria-endemic Africa. 

  1. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

It arises from B cells, a kind of white blood cell. It advances slowly and mostly affects elderly people. 

For years, CLL may not cause any symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, and easy bruising are some of the symptoms that may arise. 

Treatment isn’t usually required at first, however it may involve chemotherapy. Stem-cell transplantation is only utilized in extreme situations of aggressive kinds. 

  1. Acute myeloid leukaemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a kind of blood and bone marrow malignancy. It is the most frequent kind of adult acute leukemia.

If left untreated, this kind of cancer generally worsens swiftly. AML can also be referred to as acute myelogenous leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. 

Symptoms include fatigue, recurring infections, and easy bruising. 

Chemotherapy, additional medication therapy, and stem-cell transplants are among the treatments available. 

4. Chronic myeloid leukaemia  

Chronic myeloid leukaemia usually affects elderly people. It is produced by an unintentional chromosomal mutation. Doctors are unsure what is causing the mutation. 

Many patients do not have symptoms until later in the disease’s progression, and the diagnosis is only possible through routine blood testing.

When symptoms do appear, they include easy bleeding, fatigue, weight loss, pale complexion, and night sweats. 

Targeted medications, stem-cell transplant, chemotherapy, and biological therapy are among of the treatments available. 

Summary of Acute and Chronic leukaemia 

Acute leukaemia is incredibly rare and is the most rapidly progressing cancer we know of. The white cells in the blood grow very quickly, over a matter of days to weeks.

Even a few weeks or months before the diagnosis, a patient with acute leukemia may have no symptoms or have normal blood work. The transformation may be fairly striking.  

Chronic leukemia, as opposed to acute leukemia, develops slowly. It might take months or even years for the illness to start causing symptoms that notify the patient that anything is amiss. 

Because chronic leukaemia grows slowly and may not produce symptoms, it is typical for the disease to be discovered in routine blood work when a patient visits the doctor for a routine checkup.

If a patient does not see a doctor for several years, the condition can go undiscovered for a long time, and abnormal cells can accumulate and develop an enlarged spleen. 

First stage symptoms of leukaemia 

Fever or chills. 

Persistent fatigue, weakness. 

Frequent or severe infections. 

Losing weight without trying. 

Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen. 

Easy bleeding or bruising. 

Recurrent nosebleeds. 

Tiny red spots on your skin (petechiae)  

Environmental factors  that can cause leukaemia 

Environmental factors may increase the risk of developing leukaemia: 

  1. Certain chemotherapy drugs. 

2. Petrochemicals (such as benzene) 

3. Tobacco smoke. 

4. Certain hair dyes 

5. Exposure to high levels of radiation and certain chemicals  

Treatments for leukaemia

Treatments for leukemia depend on the type of leukemia you have, your age and overall health, and if the leukemia has spread to other organs or tissues.  

There are five common treatment categories.  

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy are chemicals (medications) given in pill form, administered through an IV into a vein or a central line or given in shots under the skin (subcutaneously).

The chemicals kill leukaemia cells or stop them from dividing. Usually, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used. This is the most common form of treatment for leukemia.  

Radiation therapy: This treatment uses strong beams of energy to kill leukaemia cells or stop them from growing.

Radiation is directed to exact sites in your body where there is a collection of cancer cells or can be given over your whole body as part of a hematopoietic cell transplant. 

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Immunotherapy: This treatment, also called biologic therapy, uses certain drugs to boost your body’s own defense system – your immune system – to fight leukemia. 

Targeted therapy: This treatment employs medications that target certain characteristics of leukaemia cells.

Targeted treatments function by preventing leukemia cells from multiplying and dividing, cutting off the blood supply required for the cells to survive, or directly destroying the cells.

Normal cells are less likely to be harmed by targeted treatment.  

Hematopoietic cell transplantation: This treatment replaces malignant blood-forming cells damaged by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with fresh, healthy hematopoietic cells.  

These healthy cells are extracted from you (before chemo or radiation therapy) or from a donor’s blood or bone marrow and reintroduced into your bloodstream.  

Hematopoietic cells that are healthy expand and multiply, generating new bone marrow and blood cells that develop into all of the different types of cells that your body requires (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets).  


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