Leukemia is a type of blood cancer in which the white blood cells proliferate abnormally in the bone marrow. There are two main types of leukemia depending on the variant of white blood cells involved. We can have leukemia featuring either a myeloid series of cells or lymphoid cells. Moreover, there are many different subtypes of leukemia, depending on many other factors. For example, we have very aggressive leukemia that develops quickly and may become life-threatening in a few weeks. They are called acute leukemia. We can also have slow-progressing and insidious types of leukemia that may require treatment, and patients can last for a longer time. This type is known as chronic leukemia.
The survival rate of leukemia and life expectancy of patients depend on numerous factors, which include:
- The type of leukemia the patient has
- The patient’s age
- How soon the treatment started
- Warning signs and symptoms
In acute leukemia, the life expectancy is often shorter unless patients achieve a remission of the disease. In chronic leukemia, the condition is present from a more extended period and life expectancy is measured in years. Thus, the course of leukemia can vary from days to months, and even years depending on the type.
Is leukemia curable?
Although there is no cure for leukemia, there are various ways to slow down the proliferation of white blood cells and prevent leukemia from spreading to other organs. The success of the treatment depends on the efficacy of therapies and how early they started in the course of the disease.
Depending on each case, patients may undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, and supportive therapy which includes antibiotics treatment, correction of anemia, and thrombocytopenia. A typical patient often needs a combination of treatments, and the success of therapy depends on a complex combination of risk factors.
Bone marrow transplantation is a good option and the only one that guarantees full remission of the disease. However, it is a very dangerous treatment, sometimes more dangerous than the disease itself. It may come with serious complications such as graft versus host disease, pneumonia, cataract, infertility, and secondary malignant diseases.