A “leukemia” diagnosis can cause fear and uncertainty. It is a life-altering event for both the patient and family.
Leukemia is a progressive cancer in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal cells. Indeed, this diagnosis can bring profound changes and treating leukemia is complex and demanding.
When people are diagnosed with acute leukemia, their world changes from one moment to the next. One moment they were feeling well, the next they are faced with a serious diagnosis requiring immediate intervention.
Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and in 2015, there will be 54, 270 newly diagnosed cases of leukemia in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
Changes in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are what cause the symptoms in leukemia. These symptoms include but are not limited to: fatigue, shortness of breath, excessive bruising and bleeding, fever and headache.
The only way to diagnosis leukemia is through a careful evaluation. The evaluation must be prompt and comprehensive. Often this requires direct admission to a hospital and evaluation by an oncologist. The accurate diagnosis of leukemia is critical. Current testing methods to obtain this diagnosis can be complex and timing is critical. Much of the testing done today helps predict the course of treatment that each individual patient needs to achieve the best outcomes. Oncologists and hematologists that specialize in the treatment of patients with leukemia will often have access to these specialized tests.
Treatment for acute leukemia typically requires an initial admission to a hospital that can support the unique needs of leukemia patients. Support services such as nursing, blood banks, nutritionists, therapists and navigators help patients optimize their journey through treatment. Although, the journey is complex and overwhelming, with prompt diagnosis, focused treatment and specialized support patients have a way towards survivorship.