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Genetic Leukemia

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genetic_leukemiaTypes of Leukemia Passed Through DNA

Experts don't know all of the causes of leukemia. Most types don't run in families, so it is hard for anyone to say with complete certainty that there is genetic leukemia. In some cases, chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL does appear more in some families than other families, but no one knows why. Genetic conditions like Down Syndrome, Bloom Syndrome and Fanconi Anemia can make acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML, more likely, but others without these conditions can also get the same form of leukemia.

Genetic Testing for Cancer

Accurate genetic testing for cancer may be able to tell whether a person has a disease related gene mutation. Positive results may meas that the risk of getting cancer is higher, but since scientists do not know for sure what triggers the mutation, they cannot tell you for sure that you will get cancer. If your genetic test for cancer comes back negative, is does mean that you are less likely to get cancer, but it is not a certainty. There could be changes in genes that scientists are unaware of yet.

Before you go for any genetic testing for cancer, you will have to go through counseling to help you understand the results. Genetic testing for cancer is a decision that cannot be taken lightly, because scientists do not know with any amount of certainty that a positive result means you will get cancer or a negative one means that you will not get cancer. Getting tested is a very personal decision. Also, not all cancer is known for sure to be genetic; leukemia for example is still being questioned since the gene mutation can happen to anyone with no family history at all.

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow. Leukemia happens when one single, solitary cell in the bone marrow mutates and causes the body to make many abnormal white blood cells. The white blood cells grow quicker than normal cells, and they do not stop growing when they normally should. This means that the normal cells do not have a place to grow. Eventually, the white blood cells or lymphocytes leave no room for the good cells, and leukemia occurs.

The Chronic or Acute form of leukemia can be found with either type of major leukemia. Acute leukemia is a rapid expansion of the bad blood cells. Chronic Leukemia typically takes years or just months to progress. Acute leukemia mostly occurs in children and may be treated successfully if immediate action is taken. Chronic leukemia is most common in adults, but can occur in any age group.

Symptoms of Childhood leukemia

The symptoms of Childhood leukemia include the following:

  • Recurrent infections
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising that occurs easily
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Childhood leukemia is most common in children between the ages of two and six, and more often in males than females. To diagnose childhood leukemia, certain diagnostic tests are needed. These include: a blood test for complete blood count, bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap and chest x-rays. There is no certainty with a genetic leukemia test, because scientists are not sure if childhood leukemia is caused solely by genetic factors.

Scientists do not know of a single cause for the many types of leukemia. The mutations that occur can be spontaneous, a result of being exposed to carcinogenic substances or radiation, and likely influenced by genetics.

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