What do pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and testicular cancer have in common? They all sound very much straightforward. Pancreatic cancer means cancer in the pancreas, lung cancer is cancer in the lungs, and so forth.
And then you have leukemia. At first sight, no one could immediately know what leukemia meant, or even if it is a cancer or not. But in fact, the word ‘leukemia’ comes from the Greek words leukos (which means white), and haima (which means blood).
Here’s more information about the state of leukemia in Malaysia.
What Is Leukemia?
A straightforward definition of leukemia from the Canadian Cancer Society would be sufficient to you:
“Leukemia is a cancer that starts in blood stem cells. Stem cells are basic cells that develop into different types of cells that have different jobs.
Blood stem cells develop into either lymphoid stem cells or myeloid stem cells.
- Lymphoid stem cells develop into lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Lymphocytes help fight infection and destroy abnormal cells. The 3 types of lymphocytes are B cells, T cells and natural killer (NK) cells.
- Myeloid stem cells develop into red blood cells, granulocytes, monocytes or platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all tissues of the body. Granulocytes and monocytes are types of white blood cells that destroy bacteria and help fight infection. Platelets form clots in damaged blood vessels to stop bleeding.
As the stem cells of the blood develop, they become blast cells (blasts), which are immature blood cells. In leukemia, there is an overproduction of blast cells. These blast cells develop abnormally and don’t develop into mature blood cells. Over time, the blast cells crowd out normal blood cells so that they can’t do their jobs. When leukemia is diagnosed, these blast cells may be called leukemia cells.”
If you want a simpler definition, WebMD would probably do the trick:
“It’s cancer of your blood cells caused by a rise in the number of white bloodblood cells in your body. They crowd out the red blood cells and platelets your body needs to be healthy. All those extra white blood cells don’t work right, and that causes problems.”
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Leukemia In Malaysia
In Malaysia, the 2006 statistics by the Ministry of Health show that about 3 to 4 people get leukemia per 100,000 of the population. The risk of incidence is higher for males than females.
Children are also more at risk especially when they are in the age range of 10-19. In this age range is where 20% of leukemia patients are. But despite this glaring age range that seems to frighten parents, it is adults who should worry more for themselves.
Furthermore, as you grow older, the risk of incidence also increases. But between men and women, men develop higher risks when they’re old, while the risk of women getting leukemia lowers around the age of 70.
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Symptoms Of Leukemia
Prevention.com’s Markham Heid’s listed out six signs that you could look out for when it comes to finding out if you have leukemia or not. We don’t think it’s complete, but here’s some of the symptoms anyway:
When leukemia develops, new blood cells that are damaged by cancer can overtake bone marrow, and so make it difficult for healthy cells to grow, because you have fewer healthy cells. Plus you could develop anemia from then on, which can lead to pale skin.
Fatigue is a common symptom of leukemia. So if you’re feeling wiped out all the time, and especially if your lack of energy is a noticeable change from how you used to feel, tell your doctor.
Infections or Fevers
Your blood cells are an important component of your immune system. If they’re unhealthy, as is the case for those with leukemia, you can expect to get sick more frequently. Infections or fevers are one of the most common symptoms we see.
However, WebMD listed out a more technical array of symptoms:
Swollen lymph nodes
This typically happens in the throat, armpits, or groin. You could actually feel for them.
Loss of appetite and weight
Stopped feeling like eating? Maybe it’s not just the food being bad.
Discomfort under the left lower ribs
This would be caused by a swollen spleen. Spleen? Spleen! Sounds funny to say right? SPLEEN. Okay enough.
This could be due to retinal hemorrhage, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), mental status changes, prolonged erection (priapism), and stroke.
Treatment Of Leukemia In Malaysia
Cancers are generally in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands. One of the more expensive cancers to treat is actually breast cancer, which could go up to RM400,000.
Looked upon this way, leukemia is at a fairly modest sum of RM35,000 to RM85,000. This figure was obtained from an alternative treatments website called Cancer Cure Malaysia.
Other community blogs such as Cancer Care Malaysia tells the story of failed chemotherapy treatments. These stories claim that the costs of leukemia go beyond the sum of RM100,000, and this would mostly depend on whether the chemotherapy worked in the first place.
To treat leukemia, you would probably need a specialist and this will be very costly. A safe bet to find specialists in blood cancer a.k.a. Leukemia in Malaysia would probably be in private hospitals such as Gleneagles, Pantai Hospital KL, or even Prince Court.
More affordable options would be from examples of government, or even NGO initiatives such as those detailed in this article.
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