Cancer of the white blood cells, bone marrow, lymphatic system is referred to as leukemia. Chronic leukemia stages and symptoms are described in this article. Read ahead, to know more about leukemia…
Leukemia indicates abnormality of blood cells, especially white blood cells. Depending upon the rate of progression, leukemia is classified as chronic or acute leukemia. Depending upon the type of bone marrow cells affected, leukemia is classified as lymphocytic (or lymphoblastic, affecting the lymphocyte cells in bone marrow) and myelogenous (or myeloid, affecting the myeloid cells in bone marrow).
Main Types of Leukemia
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia
These types are further subdivided into various subtypes. Small children as well as adults can suffer from leukemia.
Stages of Leukemia
Most cancers are staged as stage I, II, III and IV but staging for leukemia is slightly different. As leukemia invades the bone marrow, staging is quite difficult. At the time of diagnosis, doctors often notice that the cancer has already invaded a number of organs like liver, spleen, including the lymph nodes. So, there is no use of staging. Stages of leukemia therefore depend on the information that reflects the patient’s chances of survival. Some types of leukemia do not have staging system. Depending on the symptoms, different ways of staging are followed to describe different types of chronic leukemia. Staging or grouping helps determine proper treatment. In some cases, the stages are called groups or phases.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Symptoms
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or blood and bone marrow disease affects the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells (WBCs) which help fight infections. Older men are more susceptible to CLL. As there are three types of lymphocytes, CLL is classified as B cell CLL (most common), T cell CLL and NK cell CLL. This type of leukemia develops slowly over the years. It is rarely found in children. Patients lead a normal life for many years. The disease can be asymptomatic in early stages, as it progresses slowly. Initially, mild symptoms are noticed. The chronic lymphocytic leukemia symptoms include:
- Frequent infections
- Excessive tiredness, fatigue
- Shortness of breath during physical activities
- Fever, chills, increased night sweats, heat intolerance
- Weight loss without any change in lifestyle or diet
- Pain or discomfort under the ribs
- Swelling in the abdominal cavity
- Unexplained bruising and bleeding
- Swollen lymph nodes at various locations, for example, in the neck, underarms, stomach, or groin area
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Stages
Stage 0: Increased number of lymphocytes are noticed in the blood. The patient exhibits no other symptoms.
Stage I: Excessive number of lymphocytes are noticed in the blood but the number of red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets is still normal. Slightly enlarged lymph nodes can be noticed as one of the early symptoms of the disease.
Stage II: The number of lymphocytes is very high. Enlarged lymph nodes and swollen liver or spleen can be observed.
Stage III: Number of lymphocytes is very high. The number of RBCs lowers, resulting in anemia. Swollen lymph nodes, liver or spleen can be seen.
Stage IV: Number of lymphocytes is very high. The number of platelets and RBCs drops down significantly. Swollen lymph nodes, liver or spleen can be noticed.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Stages
Symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are almost the same as explained above. This type of leukemia is more common among adults. Exposure to high level radiation (due to nuclear plant accidents, radiation treatments) can cause chronic myelogenous leukemia. It is asymptomatic during early stages. The stages of CML are determined by examining the number of granulocytes (blasts) and the severity of the symptoms.
Chronic Stage: In this stage, mild symptoms are exhibited by the patient. Less than 10% of the blood and bone marrow cells are blasts. Patients usually respond well to treatment.
Accelerated Stage: Patient shows symptoms like fever, poor appetite, fatigue and weight loss. About 10-30% of the blood and bone marrow cells are blast cells. Patients usually do not respond well to the treatment.
Blastic Stage: More than 30% of the blood and bone marrow cells are blast cells. The blast cells invade the bones and tissues adjacent to the bone marrow.
Relapse: After the remission when the blood and bone marrow show an increase in the number of blast cells, it is called relapse.
Stages of leukemia are different in other types of leukemia. After examining the test reports of a patient, a physician can determine the stage of leukemia and the treatment for the disease. The information provided in this article should be considered as guidelines only.