Although there have been a number of breakthroughs in medical technology in terms of treatment to cure a number of different illnesses, diseases and other medical conditions, there are still a number of different diseases that have remained to be considered as terminal illnesses. One of which is cancer. Unlike in the previous decades, the advancements in medical science and technology have begun to provide patients diagnosed with cancer a better chance in surviving. Nevertheless, the chance of a patient succumbing to various types of cancer remains at an extremely high rate.
In relation to this, apart from providing treatment and care to cancer patients such as those that have been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), measures have been made to help families, especially young children of patients diagnosed with ALL, to prepare and cope with the emotional and psychological effects this brings onto the family of the patient. This paper is an expository paper about ALL. Specifically, it will discuss what ALL is, its symptoms and survival rate among children diagnosed with ALL.
The paper would also provide potential side effects ALL treatments bring about on children who undergo treatment for this particular type of cancer. The paper would also look into how the discovery of a child that his or her parents are diagnosed with leukemia with regards to their social life and the various coping measures provided to them. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, simply known as ALL, is a malignant form of cancer which inflicts the white blood cells of the circulatory system, which is, in turn, is part of the immune system of the human body. ALL has been traced to originate in the bone marrow, or mediastinum.
White blood cells, also called lymphoid precursor cells, found in patients diagnosed with ALL are those that have been arrested in their development and growth process, causing them the inability to fight off infection brought about by bacteria and viruses entering the blood stream of the patient. The common accepted cause of ALL is genetic. Abnormal expressions in the genetic structure of an individual result to the subsequent arresting of the growth and development of the lymphoid precursor cells, particularly lymphoblastic cells, replacing the elements found in a normal bone marrow.
This eventually results in the further production and spreading of these abnormal lymphoblastic cells into the blood stream of the body. These abnormal cells have often been found to accumulate in the brain or the spinal cord of the patient as well as in the reproductive organs (College of American Pathologists 1; National Cancer Institute; Seiter). In the United States, it has been estimated that about 4,000 individuals are diagnosed with ALL each year. Although ALL commonly inflicts children below the age of 10 years, ALL is also found among adults.
In fact, approximately 1,000 new cases of ALL diagnosed each year in the United States occur in adults and has been known to be more common among male individuals as opposed to females. Apart from the United States, the countries that have been reported to have the highest occurrences of ALL are Costa Rica, Switzerland and Italy (LeMaistre and Stein; Seiter). A low red blood and platelet cell count similar to that found in anemia is commonly found among patients suffering from ALL.
This is brought about by the abnormal development and growth of blood cells occurring in the bone marrow of patients suffering from ALL, which eventually causes a patient to bruise and bleed more easily as compared to other individuals. Some of the most common symptoms of ALL include fever, fatigue, increased susceptibility of the individual to various types of infections, inflamed liver, lymph nodes, or spleen, paleness of the skin, tiny red spot called petechiae located under the skin, and muscle and joint pain.
Because these symptoms may be similar to a variety of other diseases, a series of diagnostic tests is commonly done to confirm whether the patient has ALL or otherwise. These diagnostic tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and a peripheral blood smear. In some cases, a physician may require a lumbar puncture test, more commonly called a spine tap, to determine whether there is an accumulation of abnormal cell buildup around the brain and spinal cord area (College of American Pathologists; National Cancer Institute; LeMaistre and Stein; Seiter).