As indicated on the UC Davis medical website, there are several types Leukemia, including chronic and acute forms. Some forms are more common among children, while adults are more likely to obtain others.
Leukemia usually starts in the white blood cells, which are the body’s first defense against infection. The body’s bone marrow creates an unusual amount of abnormal white blood cells, which don’t function properly. This creates a crowding of cells within the bone marrow and blood, which then spreads to vital organs in the body.
People with Leukemia usually display several symptoms. The high number of immature white blood cells results in the person being easily bruised. They may also bleed excessively if cut. The disease also makes it hard for the body to fight off a simple infection. The immune system does not function properly, which can result in a number of frequent illnesses which could be life threatening.
I found this topic particularly interesting because a relative of mine suffers from the acute form of Leukemia. This is the form often found in children, which is true in this case. She was diagnosed at the age of 7 and has been undergoing treatment for a few years now. They were given a few options when it came to treatment, including chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant. Due to the complex process and risk involved with a stem cell transplant, the family decided to choose chemotherapy as a treatment option. The entire process was very stressful on the family, but they stuck together and pushed on. The chemotherapy was deemed a success, but some symptoms may carry on into adulthood. Chemotherapy appears to be the most common treatment for children with the disease.
New Treatment Options
Treatment for Leukemia is ever-evolving. In recent years, a new form of treatment has surfaced that is facing many questions from the general public. This type of treatment is known as a stem-cell transplant. It is controversial for many reasons and has garnered the attention of the media and public. During the time after the transplant, the patient remains very vulnerable to life threatening illnesses while the body recovers. Getting a transplant is not easy; however, finding the right donor can be nearly impossible, especially for non-white patients.
Those against stem cell research and treatment say the destruction of human embryos is unnecessary, and that unprotected human life is being destroyed in the name is science. Others feel this is a necessary step if we want to advance science and medicine. These are viable treatment options that can heed amazing results given the time and research.
Moral and ethical issues aside, I believe, in order to further science and medical treatment, we need to study things such as stem cells. Political issues often get in the way when it comes to this type of medical research. Many are even pushing for the ban of stem cell related treatments and research. Banning scientific research is only going to hurt us in the long run. Who knows what kind of discoveries we may find during extensive research of human stem cells.
Researchers are currently working on ways to increase the number of stem cells recovered from cord blood. If given the opportunity and funds, they may make the process easier and more efficient. Research in this topic is relatively new, and as a result, the process will be slow and time consuming. We should not limit our knowledge and understanding just because a few political issues stand in the way.