The Leukemia Treatment – Cancer Example

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"The Leukemia Treatment" is a wonderful example of a paper on cancer.   Patients suffering from acute leukemia begin treatment with chemotherapy at the hospital.   Chemotherapy entails the use of a single drug or a combination of drugs that target and eliminates  leukemia cells  (Faderl and  Kantarjian  2011).   The treatment is delivered to the patient’ s body in different ways, which include  by mouth, intravenous injection, injection directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, or via the catheter. Patients may elicit various side effects as treatment progresses, depending on  drugs used and the dose. Rapidly dividing cells are specifically affected during treatment, which includes blood  cells and cells in hair roots; that  may result in general body malaise, easy bruising, and hair loss.

The patient may also be more susceptible to infections and are preferably placed in isolation or under sterile conditions due to their delicate nature while  experiencing  mouth sores, nausea, lack of appetite, and vomiting  (Schoenstadt  2010).   The purpose of  stem cell transplantation is to restore the functions of the bone marrow for treatment in patients suffering from leukemia.   There are two main types of stem cell transplantation are autologous and allogeneic transplantations, of which the decision to choose between either is based on the type of leukemia involved, patient’ s age, and availability of a stem cell donor (Morrison  and Hesdorffer, 2010).   Stem cell transplantation is done in specialized transplant centers and bears side effects that range from minor to life-threatening ones.   Side effects  include;   cataracts, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and congestive heart failure.

Patients may also present with retarded growth, premature menopause, pneumonitis, and blockage of liver veins.   Also, the patient may develop  graft-versus-host disease, which can be mild or severe.   Surgery is normally not advocated as a mode of treatment for leukemia,   as it would most likely  spread to most vital organs.

However,   in rare cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, surgery is  performed to remove the spleen, to stop the spleen from destroying red blood cells and platelets. Surgery can also be performed during the diagnosis stage of leukemia, where a swollen lymph node may be removed to confirm  the  diagnosis. Also, surgery may be performed to place a central venous catheter during chemotherapy.   Radiation therapy is usually used as a treatment plan that incorporates chemotherapy; where  ionizing radiation is used to target and destroy leukemia cells, preventing them from spreading and relieve symptoms.   Radiotherapy destroys both healthy cells and the leukemia cells that are in the way of the ionizing beam, which results in undesired side effects that take  a  toll on the patient’ s body  (“ Treatment for Leukemia” ,  2011).

Side effects associated with radiation therapy include fatigue, hair loss, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term side effects depend on the patient’ s age,   and the amount of radiation received and may  include;   infertility, cataracts, delays in growth and development in children.   Stem cell transplantation provides a unique opportunity for the affects organs to regenerate themselves and restore the normal functions to the benefit of the patient.

However, the process takes time and requires well-trained personnel to achieve success. The process is also expensive and demands a matching donor for the procedure to be carried out.   Chemotherapy and radiation therapy also have their shortcomings but play a crucial role in the treatment of leukemia.     In conclusion, it can, therefore,   be noted that the best treatment plan entails a combination of the available treatment options. A combination of all treatments presents the patient with a better chance to survive and lead a better life without the recurrence of the ailment.

References

Morrison, C. and Hesdorffer, C.(2010). Johns Hopkins Patients' Guide to Leukemia. Jones & Bartlett Publishers Burlinton, USA.

Faderl, S. and Kantarjian, H. (2011). Leukemias: Principles and Practice of Therapy. John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, USA.

Treatment for Leukemia, (2011). [WWW]. Canadian Cancer Society. Available from [Accessed. 16 August 2012].

Schoenstadt, A.(2010), An Introduction to Treating Leukemia With Chemotherapy, [WWW]. eMedTV. Available from [Accessed. 16 August 2012].

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