Transient leukemia is a very rare blood disease that manifests during early childhood. Read more about the causes, symptoms and treatment, in the following article.
Leukemia is one of the four major types of cancer and it affects the blood and bone marrow of a person. Leukemia is a disease that displaces bone marrow as a result of proliferation of leukocytes. This condition disturbs the process of blood clotting, which is crucial for healthy body functioning. It is caused due to a number of factors like genetic errors, radiation, viruses, various medical therapies, and unhealthy habits like smoking.
One of the rarest types of leukemia is called Transient Myeloproliferative Disorder (TMD). TMD is also known as Transient Leukemia or TL. Children who are suffering with Down Syndrome are at a higher risk of developing TMD. This is often confused with another congenital type of leukemia, known as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
But it is important to understand that AML has a different pattern of expression of certain myeloid markers than that of TMD. AML is considered to be a much severe condition, and it generally manifests after one year of age. Continue reading ahead to learn more about the facts and course of treatment for TMD.
What is Transient Leukemia (TL)?
This is a type of childhood leukemia. TL is also known as transient abnormal myelopoiesis or transient myeloid leukemia. The first case of TL was recorded in the year 1954. It is important to understand that according to the clinical records, this disease affects around 20% newborns in the US, who are not suffering with the Down Syndrome. TMD can be detected only after a few days of birth. This is comparatively a low risk type of disease to affect the infants when diagnosed in its early stages.
When it comes to transient leukemia in Down Syndrome (DS-TL), there is only 10% manifestation, which is relatively lesser than the chances of developing AML in Down Syndrome. TL in Down Syndrome is mostly followed by AML or acute myeloid leukemia. Characteristics of bone marrow in TL are variable and its blast differential is most likely to be lower than blast differential of peripheral blood. This disease can be diagnosed with special blood tests and physical examinations.
As mentioned above, this type of leukemia can be diagnosed as early as the 7th day after birth. Diagnostic period of TL is from 1 day to 65th day of birth. As far as the physiological signs are concerned, this type of leukemia can be symptomatic or totally asymptomatic. Some common symptoms of TL that are evident at birth include, abdominal distention, bruising, pinpricks bleeding or petechiae, respiratory problems like hypoxia, tachypnea and sleep apnea, jaundice, skin rash, heart murmurs, pallor, various types of infections, hypoglycemia, hypothermia, lack of initial growth, digestive symptoms like diarrhea, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, etc.
In case of asymptomatic signs of TL, blasts are found on peripheral smear. Blood count is also relatively lower in such cases. In some cases, transient myeloid leukemia is not diagnosed at birth, which makes it difficult to diagnose at the later stages of life (2 to 3 months of age). TL may also show blasts on constitutional trisomy 21, which is one of the causes of Down Syndrome. It is the reason why Down Syndrome is considered as one of the risk factors of childhood leukemia.
The exact path of prognosis and treatment of this type of leukemia is a bit uncertain, and it mostly depends on individual examination and test results. In the cases of DS-ML (Down Syndrome-Myeloid Leukemia) as well as non DS-ML, doctors examine the patient and then decide the course of its treatment. In the cases of patients who are diagnosed with TL but they do not have Down Syndrome, it is observed that sometimes the disease could be benign and it could clear away within the time span of a few month.
However, in case of Down Syndrome, wherein TL is a more common occurrence, patients are treated with low doses of certain drugs like cytarabine, which is said to be effective for leukemia free survival or LFS. However, early detection of transient leukemia is extremely important for early recovery and successful survival of the patient of this disease. Apart from Down Syndrome Myeloid Leukemia, other cases might become a prime reason for manifestation of various serious diseases like CHF (congestive heart failure), and other types of leukemia including AML.
All the information provided in the above article is for educational purpose only. In any case of such a disease, it is always advisable to visit a professional health care provider and get treatment at the earliest.