If you are wondering what causes childhood leukemia, we have a detailed write up put together just for you. Read on and use it for your benefit.
Leukocytes or white blood cells are those which are components of the human blood and are produced in the bone marrow of the body. They are involved in the immune system of the body and they protect it from the various infections caused due to foreign objects. When an infection is predicted in the body, the WBC count is usually checked, as the number of leukocytes (more or less) is a clear indicator of abnormality in the blood. These white blood cells contribute about 1% of the human blood which is healthy, any number above or below this level is considered as abnormal and unhealthy.
When there is increase in the number of WBCs, the condition is known as leukocytosis and a decrease is called leukopenia. Leukemia is a commonly found type of cancer of these blood cells, and is characterized with an abnormally high count of WBCs. Childhood leukemia is a type of leukemia which is the only dominant type of cancer found among children and is usually fatal. It is a result of the immature leukocytes produced by the child’s bone marrow. Here’s some information on what causes childhood leukemia.
The statistics state that there is approximately 1 among 2000 children who suffer from this blood disease before the age of 14 years. There are different types of leukemia which are observed such as; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most commonly found, Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and the Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
- ALL is also called lymphoid or lymphoblastic cancer. It accounts to 70 – 80% of the total incidence in children, and the reason for it being so common is that the cell line of the lymphocyte is affected.
- The basic cause is the formation of immature leukocytes in the bone marrow, due to some genetic disorder or chromosomal abnormality in the DNA. Because of this, the lymphocytes which are a type of agranulocytic leukocyte, are produced immature and without a cell line.
- This further leads to the over production of the lymphocytes and crowd out the other blood cells. The function of lymphocytes is to fight infections on behalf of the WBCs, which is not performed appropriately due to the structural deformity of the cells. ALL develops in a duration of a few weeks or days.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
- The next most serious type is the AML, that accounts for about 20% of the total incidence. This is called myelocytic, granulocytic, myeloid or myeloblastic cancer.
- Granulocytes are another type of leukocytes or white blood cells, which are produced in the bone marrow. When these are produced in high numbers, AML is the result. Like ALL, there are immature or damaged myoblasts which are produced due to some genetic mutations in the DNA.
- When these are overproduced, they too, crowd out the normal and healthy cells and thus lead to a cancer. These cells also protect the body through the immune system and can’t function when they are deformed, therefore the immunity of the child reduces and leads to other diseases.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
- This is one of the most uncommon type that accounts to only 5% of the total incidences. This is caused due to abnormal chromosomal development and there is substantial research on this cause and progression of the development of the cancer.
- There are 23 pairs of chromosomes which have sections in the human body, which hold the genetic material (DNA) of the body and regulate the cells. When a child has CML, one section of the 9th chromosome is switched with one section of the 22nd chromosome in the blood cells. This swapping of the sections create either an extra small 22nd chromosome (Philadelphia chromosome) or an extra long 9th chromosome.
- This Philadelphia chromosome creates another gene which has instructions (codes on the DNA) to produce more protein tyrosine kinase (that promotes cancerous or excess growth of blood cells). This causes CML, which is usually fatal.
Hope you have found this information beneficial. With the advancements in medicine, leukemia can be cured by the sophisticated medicines that are being produced today.