Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

by Howard Gerber on September 27, 2010

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Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month is September. This is a great opportunity for nurses and other healthcare providers to make sure people are aware of the symptoms associated with these two diseases. As with all forms of cancer, the earlier the disease is caught, the better the patient’s chances for survival.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, there are about 260,000 people who are in remission or who are living with leukemia in the United States today. An estimated 43,000 more people will be diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. Leukemia is most common in older adults; however, it is the most common cancer in children ages one to seven. When discussing leukemia, it should be understood that there are four major types of the disease which are:

  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

The term acute refers to a disease that rapidly develops and chronic describes a diseases that progresses more slowly. Lymphocytic and myelogenous describe the types of cells involved.

While the symptoms of leukemia vary by type and by person some of the general symptoms include:

  • Persistent weakness and fatigue
  • Unintentional loss of weight
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Enlarged spleen or liver
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Petechiae, characterized by tiny red spots on the skin
  • Bone tenderness or pain.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the blood that develops in the lymphatic system. The main types are Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common type.

Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in armpits, neck, or groin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Unintentional loss of weight
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or chest pain
  • Itching
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol
  • Fever, chills, night sweats

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes in armpits, neck, or groin
  • Pain or swelling of the abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Unintentional loss of weight

Many of the symptoms of leukemia and lymphoma are very similar. Indeed they are also much like symptoms of other medical conditions. That is why it is so very important that people become aware that when these symptoms occur together, they need to visit their healthcare provider and begin asking questions. Making people aware of the symptoms and seriousness of these diseases is a great first step in ensuring that people receive proper medical care during the earliest stages of the disease.

Do you work in the field of healthcare? How will you be promoting Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month? Have you participated in past years, and if so, have you heard positive feedback from your clientele?

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