Leukaemia Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells which are produced by bone marrow. The four main types of leukaemia are chronic myeloid, acute myeloid, chronic lymphocytic and acute lymphoblastic. The acute conditions come on suddenly, progress quickly and need urgent treatment whereas the chronic conditions develop slowly often over years. Symptoms include anaemia, frequent bruising, infections and abnormal bleeding.

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Diasgnosis

Diagnosis of leukaemia is by analysis and microscopic examination of a blood sample however in the case of lymphocytic leukaemia it is necessary to take and examine a sample of bone marrow using biopsy techniques for confirmation. The most likely source of misdiagnosis of leukaemia is in the doctor’s surgery at which time the initial symptoms may be dismissed as unimportant or may be attributed to another less serious illness. Failure to arrange for follow up tests by a doctor is medical negligence. The main treatment used for leukaemia is chemotherapy often in conjunction with a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. The high doses of chemical used to kill the cancer also kills the bone marrow which produces new white blood cells thereby necessitating a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. Survival rates for adult victims of leukaemia are poor especially if the condition is not diagnosed or is misdiagnosed thereby ensuring that treatment is not started at an early stage. The key to survival with all cancers is early diagnosis and early treatment.

Leukaemia

Leukaemia involves having cancer of the various blood cells. While no one knows exactly why leukaemia occurs, there are known risk factors. Leukaemia are identified according to whether or not they are myelocytes or lymphocytes. The cancer can be acute or chronic. Complications of having leukaemia include having fevers, night sweat, easy bruisability, anemia, and weight loss. Leukaemia can be diagnosed by blood tests and bone marrow biopsy. The treatment of leukaemia involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplantation.

Leukaemia can be divided into different categories. There can be chronic leukaemia, which involves slow growing cells that often don’t kill the patient. Slow growing leukaemia can yield increased infections and swollen lymph nodes. In acute leukaemia, the cancer cells are so busy growing and dividing that they can’t act as normal cells. It is a cancer that grows quickly and takes over normal cells. Acute leukaemia can be myeloid, lymphoid, lymphocytic, myeloblastic, myelogenous or lymphocytic.

There are four main types of leukaemia. These include:

  • Chronic myeloid leukemia. It affects adults and grows very slowly in the beginning. There are about 5000 new cases of CML each year.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. It affects lymphoid cells and is slowly growing in about 15,000 adults each year. People are usually 55 years or older and almost never shows up in children.
  • Acute myeloid leukaemia or AML. This grows quickly and affects 13,000 new patients each year. It is seen in both children and adults.
  • Acute lymphocytic or lymphoblastic leukaemia or ALL. It grows very quickly and affects 5000 new cases each year, usually in young children.

While no one knows the exact cause of leukaemia, there are some risk factors that play into who gets leukaemia and who doesn’t get leukaemia. The risk factors for leukaemia include the following:

  • Radiation exposure. People who have had high levels of radiation in the past can get certain types of leukaemia. This includes being exposed to Atomic bombs, which increase the exposure to leukaemia, especially in children.
  • Radiation therapy. It isn’t known if regular x-rays contribute to a risk of leukaemia. Those who’ve had radiation for another cancer are at risk for leukaemia later in life.
  • Those who smoke are at risk for blood cancer.
  • Chemotherapy for another form of cancer can increase the risk of leukaemia.
  • Exposure to benzene, such as can be found in the workplace can cause CML or ALL later in life. Benzene can also be found in gasoline and cigarette smoke.
  • Down syndrome plus a few other genetic diseases will increase the sufferer’s risk of getting acute leukaemia.
  • Certain blood diseases like myelodysplastic syndrome can increase the risk of AML.
  • Having the HTLV-1 virus (human T cell leukaemia virus) means you are at an increased risk of adult T cell leukemia. This is a relatively rare disease but fortunately, it is not contagious.
  • Family history seems to be a factor in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Usually it is a first degree relative who also has the disease.

The symptoms of leukaemia depend on whether or not it is chronic or acute. If you have chronic leukaemia, you might not have any symptoms. A routine blood test may reveal the diagnosis. Acute leukaemia patients, on the other hand, feel sick. They go to see their doctor and are diagnosed with their disease.

Common symptoms a person might have with acute or chronic leukaemia include:

  • Fevers or sweats at night
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Feeling fatigued or weak
  • Having frequent infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Abdominal discomfort from a liver or spleen that is enlarged
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms lead the doctor to check the patient for blood disorders like leukemia. A doctor that fails to make the diagnosis is potentially putting the patient at harm.

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