Childhood leukemia risk factors aren’t many in number. But whatever there are, they are potent enough to make a child vulnerable to develop this serious condition. Know about this subject in greater detail from the following article.
Leukemia, as you must be aware of, refers to cancer that begins in the white blood cells. These cells are manufactured in the bone marrow, along with red blood cells and platelets. Under normal circumstances, they grow and divide in an orderly fashion. But due to certain changes in the DNA structure of the cells (mutation), they begin to grow and divide at a faster rate than other normal cells.
Also these abnormal cells do not die, unlike the healthy cells which do, and are replaced by newer cells. So as obvious it is, their uncontrollable growth overtakes other healthy cells in the body such as the red blood cells, and platelets, thus inhibiting their production. And when these healthy blood cells are lowered in number, the affected person experiences several types of symptoms
What Increases the Risk of Childhood Leukemia and What Causes It?
Leukemia can be well-regarded as an idiopathic condition; one without any known cause. Scientists, although, are aware that certain DNA mutation triggers the white blood cells to grow and divide abnormally, they are not sure about what specifically causes this. However, with the help of extensive studies, experts have been able to come up with a list of risk factors that can make a child increasingly susceptible to contract the acute form of leukemia. And what are these risk factors? The following section explains them to you…
Leukemia exists in two main forms according to its growth; acute leukemia (fast growing), and chronic leukemia (gradual progression). Also, it is classified according to what type of white blood cells it affects. If it affects the lymphocytes then it is known lymphocytic leukemia, and if it affects the myeloid cells, then myeloid leukemia. Thus, the four main types of this cancer are Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and acute myeloid leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
The acute types are the ones which are the most common in children. And according to what statistics say, about 6 out of 10 children with leukemia are diagnosed with ALL. That is why ALL is particularly known as acute childhood lymphocytic leukemia. Besides this, there are also cases wherein around 4 out of 10 leukemia-affected children are diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Although this does not affect children as commonly as ALL, but it does when compared with the chronic types of the disease, which are common in adults. So the risk factors which would be discussed below would be based on the ALL.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia Risk Factors
- According to what doctors have observed, one factor may make a child vulnerable to develop ALL is having undergone a cancer treatment previously. It has been found that the medical history of most children with ALL, has the mention of certain types of cancer treatment, that may include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Another risk is associated with radiation. Children who have been exposed to radiation like that from a nuclear reactor or nuclear explosion, are also likely to develop ALL. This is also true for babies who have had undergone X-ray examinations during pregnancy.
- Then comes genetic risks. Many children with ALL were known to have at least a sibling or a twin with the same disease.
- Genetic disorders such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Down syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome also increase the risk of developing ALL.
- Then there are certain immune system problems such as Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, and Bloom syndrome that some children may inherit. Having these problems, is also associated with an increased risk of ALL.
- And in some rare instances, children who have had organ transplants, may be vulnerable to develop ALL. This may occur as a result of suppressing the immune function with the aid of medications.
So as I said, the risk of contracting childhood leukemia aren’t many, but they are good enough to trigger the illness in children, and in adults as well. The treatment that is planned to deal with this disease consists of two stages. The first one is responsible for eliminating all cancer cells in the bone marrow and the blood. And the second stage is killing those cells that may have left unharmed by the first method. And what is good to know about this illness is, it is curable. However, this largely depends upon the cancerous cells and the course of the treatment.