Prevention Of Leukemia In Children: Risk Factors And Treatment

The bone marrow is the inner part of the bone which is responsible for production of blood cells. Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, which results in proliferation of leukemic cells in the marrow. Eventually these cells may fill the bone marrow and spill out of the blood stream and spread to other organs.

Since the exact etiology of leukemia is not known, there is limited scope for prevention. However, studies have shown that following certain guidelines can help prevent the condition.

Risk Factors For Leukemia In Children

There are certain risk factors that have been identified for the development of leukemia.

Preventing exposure to these risk factors can help prevent the condition,

  • Exposure to radiation is considered to be an important factor for developing leukemia. High levels of radiation exposure are caused by an atom bomb explosion or nuclear power plant accident. However repeated exposure to low radiation doses like radiation used for medical treatment can also result in the development of leukemia.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde are also known to cause leukemia.
  • Certain drugs like alkylating agents are associated with development of leukemia. Chemotherapy used for a long term increases the risk of developing leukemia.
  • Smoking is closely linked with the development of acute myeloid leukemia.

Unfortunately reports have suggested that the exact cause of leukemia is not known and most individuals who develop leukemia don’t have the above risk factors. However studies have shown that over 20% of acute myeloid leukemia is linked with smoking.

Prevention Of Leukemia In Children

The key to preventing the development of leukemia is to ensure regular medical examination and follow ups. Individuals working in nuclear power plants or in medical institutions providing radiation therapy should undergo leukemia testing on a regular basis.

  • Undertake a complete blood count examination to check for the presence of leukemic cells in the bone marrow.
  • Lymph node biopsy is also considered beneficial in detecting the presence of leukemia in children. This method is considered to be more precise in diagnosing the condition compared to the other techniques.
  • Individuals taking chemotherapy are suggested to conduct X ray or MRI scans to detect the presence of leukemia. This is a part of the regular routine, as it is meant to evaluate the impact of chemotherapy on other parts of the body.

Treatments Options For Leukemia

Leukemia treatment regimen depends upon the age of the patient, the stage of leukemia, the extent of spread of the disease, etc. The treatment regimen comprises of a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy (i.e. use of bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant), etc. are the conventional treatment options.

There are certain natural ways for preventing leukemia,

  • Reduce the intake of refined foods and saturated fats. Instead increase the intake of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Herbs like turmeric, foods like parsley and citrus fruits like lemon are loaded with anti-oxidants and have strong anti cancer properties.