About this disease
What it is about
Leukemias are among the rather rare types of cancer. They can occur at any age, even in childhood. In children, they are even the most common form of cancer. Leukemia is not a single disease, but rather an umbrella term for a group of very different diseases whose common feature is a marked increase in white blood cells. Translated from the Greek, "leukemia" means something like "white blood.
Leukocytes are cells that are normally involved in our body's defense against infections. There are different subtypes (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, etc.), each of which can develop into very different tumor diseases. Thus, leukemias can be divided into myeloid and lymphoid leukemias based on the cell of origin, and into acute and chronic forms based on aggressiveness: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).
Symptoms and consequences
If left untreated for weeks or months, acute leukemias inevitably lead to death. The malignant cell clone multiplies so rapidly that normal hematopoiesis is completely suppressed and the entire organism is increasingly weakened by bleeding, infections and anemia. Chronic leukemias can sometimes go unnoticed for a long time, manifesting themselves only in blood count changes. Lymph node enlargement, enlargement of the spleen or general weakness and reduced performance of the body may also occur.
What we do for you
Examination and diagnosis
The first step is to make an exact diagnosis. This often requires a bone marrow puncture. The bone marrow cells are analyzed and characterized in detail. This is done in various specialized laboratories. In addition, the extent of the disease in the body must be recorded with radiological imaging.
Acute leukemias must be treated quickly. Depending on age and previous illnesses, the treatment looks very different. Antibody, chemo and radiation therapies are used. In cooperation with the center hospitals, an intensive treatment path with subsequent stem cell transplantation can be taken if necessary. Chronic leukemias can sometimes be seen, but often require drug therapy. In children, leukemia can often be cured, but even in adults there is sometimes a good chance of cure.