20.07.2021 – 20:34
Leukemia is a form of cancer that affects blood cells. Since blood cells travel throughout the body in every tissue, this type of cancer can have a significant effect on overall health.
Treatment of leukemia focuses on the destruction of cancer cells that take over the normal function of blood cells. Once the cancer cells are destroyed, the blood cells are usually supplemented with a bone marrow transplant.
Most treatments for leukemia – including chemotherapy and radiation – are not selected when it comes to cells that are destroyed. These drugs target fast-growing cells, such as cancer cells. But they can also destroy some healthy cells.
Learn what side effects you can expect from treating leukemia, why they occur, and how to alleviate them.
* A decrease in the number of blood cells
As the leukemia treatment begins to work, the cancer cells begin to die. Unfortunately, other cells can be destroyed or damaged as well, along with cancer cells.
This includes red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells that help fight infections, and platelets that help blood clot.
A decrease in the number of blood cells can produce a number of side effects such as:
fatigue or weakness from anemia as the red blood cells fall off
increased risk of infection with low white blood cell count
bruising or light bleeding caused by low platelet levels
* Diet and changes in appetite
Leukemia treatments can also affect the gastrointestinal system. This is because chemotherapy and radiation can cause damage to the stomach walls and other parts of the digestive tract. Side effects include:
changes in taste or smell
changes in appetite
Inflammation can occur after chemotherapy and radiation. An expected occurrence as cells are destroyed, inflammation usually targeting more delicate tissues, such as those in the mouth and other mucous membranes. This can cause conditions like mucositis in the mouth and mumps in the salivary glands.
The symptoms of these conditions are:
pain in the mouth
* Hair loss and skin changes
Like other cells, skin and hair cells can be damaged or destroyed by cancer treatments. Hair loss – including eyebrows and eyelashes – usually begins in the first few weeks of chemotherapy but becomes more noticeable after a month or so.
Hair loss has been reported as one of the most common short-term side effects of cancer treatment. Results from a national study found that hair loss affects about 78 percent of patients who receive chemotherapy for leukemia.
The skin may also change, whitening or drying out.
Why do side effects occur?
Side effects are reactions that occur with medication or treatment. In many cases, there are some side effects that are expected with special medications, and not all of these are bad.
When side effects cause serious health concerns, they are usually called side effects.
Although some side effects are expected (and sometimes even predicted) medications affect everyone in different ways. Some factors that may affect the side effects you experience include:
how the body absorbs drugs
medicines, vitamins or other supplements you are taking
Leukemia is not curable, but can be managed with a number of treatments. How leukemia is treated is a decision that will be made between you and your doctor.
Side effects like hair loss, fatigue and nausea are common. Remember, the healthcare team is there to support you during treatment. They can help you manage any side effects you may have, so do not hesitate to discuss the symptoms you may be experiencing.