Leukemia: Cancer Of The Blood Essay

1634 words - 7 pages

The river of life, the blood is the body’s primary means of transportation. Blood is a part of the hematopoietic system, which also includes lymphatic tissue, bone marrow, and the spleen. Blood is a complex transport medium that performs vital pick-up and delivery services for the body by picking up food and oxygen from the digestive and respiratory systems, and delivering those vital elements to different cells of the body. In exchange of the blood and oxygen, blood then picks up wastes from the cells for delivery to the urinary organs. These functions could not be provided for the individual cells without the blood. Like any other structure of the body, blood can be attacked by many types of disease, such as Leukemia. Leukemia is a general name given to a number of blood cancers that affect the blood.
Blood transports hormones, enzymes, buffers, other types of biochemicals that are important in body functions. The blood is made of plasma and formed elements. Plasma is the clear, straw-colored fluidpart of the blood. The formed elements consist of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The red blood cells (erythrocytes), play a critical role in transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide to various parts of the body, and play an important role in the homeostasis of the acid base balance of the body. The white blood cells (leukocytes), are responsible for cellular defense (phagocytosis of pathogenic microorganisms), humoral defense (secretion of antibodies involved in immune system response and regulation), and play a role in the body’s inflammatory response (secretion of Heparin and Histamine). Platelets play an important role in homeostasis of the blood and the coagulation (blood clotting).
The average adult has approximately five liters of blood, a volume that can vary according to age body type, sex, and method of measurement. One cubic milliliter of normal blood contains 5,000 to 9,000 white blood cells. The number of white blood cells changes in abnormal conditions. Leukemia is a blood cancer characterized by the formation of abnormally high numbers of white blood cells. It may also transform the normal blood cells into abnormal white blood cells, and the uncontrolled growth in the number of white blood cells overwhelms and replaces normal bone marrow and blood cells. When Leukemia attacks the blood cells, the lymph nodes, the spleen, and the bone marrow are extremely weakened. Scientists do not know what causes Leukemia, but it is suspected that genetic abnormalities contribute, as do environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, exposure to radiation, and/or exposure to environmental toxins or viruses (Parks 9).
Most cases of leukemia are marked by leukocytosis; abnormally high white blood cell numbers in the blood. Leukocyte counts of 100,000/mm cubed in circulating blood are common. Leukemia is either described as acute or chronic, based on how quickly the symptoms appear after the disease begins. Leukemia can also be...

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