Hairy Cell Leukemia – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Hairy Cell Leukemia – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments  that we should not ignore. In addition, Hairy Cell Leukemia , also known as Hairy Cell Leukemia or Hairy Cell Leukemia , is a malignant neoplasm of B lymphocytes characterized by emitting cytoplasmic projections that resemble the appearance of hairs, when observed under microscopy.

This pathology is usually considered a subtype of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This type of Hairy Leukemia is uncommon, representing only 2% of all leukemias. The division into subtypes allows the doctor to choose the best type of treatment for each patient.

Leukemic lymphocytes (or hairy cells) accumulate in the bone marrow , spleen and, to a lesser extent, lymph nodes. The accumulation of these cells causes an impediment to the generation of normal blood cells.

Although there is a lot of research on the subject, so far it has not been clear how leukemia cells gain a competitive advantage, enter the bone marrow and prevent the production of normal cells.

Causes of Hairy Cell Leukemia:  It is not clear what causes Hairy Cell Leukemia.

Doctors know that cancer occurs when cells develop errors in their DNA. In the case of hairy cell leukemia, mutations in the DNA cause the bone marrow stem cells to create too many white blood cells that do not function properly.

Doctors don’t know what causes the DNA mutations that lead to hairy cell leukemia.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Symptoms  : Some people have no signs or symptoms of Hairy Cell Leukemia, but a blood test for another disease or condition may inadvertently reveal Hairy Cell Leukemia.

Other times, people with hairy cell leukemia have signs and symptoms common to a number of diseases and conditions, such as:

A feeling of fullness in the abdomen that can make it uncomfortable to eat more than a little at a time

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that worry you.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Diagnoses :  To diagnose Hairy Cell Leukemia, the doctor may recommend tests and procedures that include:

  • Physical exam. By feeling your spleen — an oval-shaped organ on the left side of your upper abdomen — your doctor can determine if it’s enlarged. An enlarged spleen can cause a feeling of fullness in your abdomen that makes it uncomfortable to eat.
  • Your doctor may also check for enlarged lymph nodes that may contain hairy leukemia cells .
  • Blood tests : Your doctor uses blood tests, such as a complete blood count, to monitor the levels of blood cells in your blood .
  • People with hairy cell leukemia have low levels of all three types of blood cells – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Another blood test called a peripheral blood smear looks for hairy cell leukemia cells in a sample of your blood .
  • Bone marrow biopsy : During a bone marrow biopsy , a small amount of bone marrow is removed from your hip. This sample is used to look for hairy cell leukemia cells
  • hairs and monitor your healthy blood cells.

Computed tomography (CT) Computed tomography shows detailed images of the inside of your body. Your doctor may order a CT scan to detect enlargement of your spleen and your lymph nodes.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Treatments  Treatment is not always necessary for people with hairy cell leukemia. Because this cancer progresses very slowly and sometimes does not progress at all, some people prefer to wait to treat their cancer only if it causes signs and symptoms. Most people with hairy cell leukemia eventually need treatment.

If your hairy cell leukemia causes signs and symptoms, you may decide to undergo treatment. There is no cure for hairy cell leukemia. But the treatments are effective in putting hairy cell leukemia into remission for years.

Chemotherapy: Doctors consider chemotherapy drugs the first line of treatment for hairy cell leukemia. The vast majority of people will experience complete or partial remission through the use of chemotherapy.

Two chemotherapy drugs are used in hairy cell leukemia:

Cladribine : Treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia usually starts with cladribine. You receive a continuous infusion of the drug into a vein over several days.

Most people who receive cladribine experience a complete remission that can last for several years. If hairy cell leukemia comes back, you can be treated again with cladribine. Side effects of cladribine can include infection and fever.

Pentostatin (Nipent): Pentostatin causes similar remission rates to cladribine, but is given at a different time. People who take pentostatin are given infusions every two weeks for three to six months. Side effects of pentostatin can include fever, nausea, and infection.

Biological Treatments: Biological therapy attempts to make cancer cells more recognizable in your immune system. Once your immune system identifies cancer cells as intruders, it can help destroy your cancer .

Two types of biological treatments are used in hairy cell leukemia:

Interferon: Currently, the role of interferon in the treatment of hairy cell leukemia is limited. You may be given interferon if chemotherapy has not been effective or if you cannot take chemotherapy.

Most people experience partial remission with interferon, which is taken for a year. Side effects include flu-like symptoms such as fever and fatigue .

Rituximab (Rituxan): Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody approved to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, although it is sometimes used in hairy cell leukemia.

If chemotherapy drugs haven’t worked for you or you can’t take chemotherapy, your doctor may consider rituximab. Rituximab side effects include fever and infection.

Surgery:  Surgery to remove your spleen (splenectomy) may be an option if your spleen ruptures or is getting bigger and causing pain. While removing your spleen cannot cure hairy cell leukemia, it can usually restore a normal blood count.

Splenectomy is not commonly used to treat hairy cell leukemia, but it can be helpful in certain situations. Any surgery risks bleeding and infection.

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