Staging is essential for all malignant tumors. It allows doctors to estimate the progression of the disease and chose the most suitable treatment option. While staging can be easier in case of some cancers, it may be quite difficult in people suffering from leukemia. Terminal stage of leukemia is, therefore, a phase in which the number of abnormal cells reaches the highest level.
One of many classifications of leukemia is classification associated with chronicity of the disease. Leukemia can be acute and chronic. According to the type of abnormal cells, there is another classification on lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia commonly affects children and goes through three phases, chronic phase, accelerated phase and blastic phase. The actual phase the patient is currently in is estimated by the percentage of cancerous cells in the blood and bone marrow samples. The final stage is the one in which the percentage of abnormal cells exceeds 30%.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is divided into four stages. In the first stage there is only increase in the number of lymphocytes and there are no symptoms and signs of the disease. The second stage is similar to the first one but patients may develop enlargement of lymph nodes as well as hepatosplenomegaly. The third stage leads to anemia, decrease in number of platelets and infiltration of many organs with abnormal leukemia cells. And in final, terminal, stage of this type of leukemia the number of leukemia cells significantly increase and the number of red blood cells and platelets becomes very low. This is why patients in terminal stage may die from different infections and uncontrollable bleeding.
Leukemia: Terminal Stage
Terminal stage is quite complex and causes many different disturbing symptoms and signs. Only in a small number of patients treatment may push the disease into remission. Unfortunately, the rest of the patients have to deal with inevitable outcome of the disease, death.
Terminal stage of leukemia is characterized by various health problems. Patients typically develop severe anemia, cachexia (wasting syndrome which includes loss of appetite and subsequent loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue and weakness), shortness of breath, slow recovery from different health problems, swelling of lymph nodes, bruising, swelling and bleeding from gums and other organs in the body etc.
Treatment for leukemia depends on its type. Acute leukemia requires prompt treatment. With proper treatment and good response patients may enter remission and stay disease-free for a different period of time.
A variety of treatments for patients suffering from leukemia includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, target therapy and stem cell transplantation. A combination of some of the mentioned is applied in most cases. Stem cell transplantation is highly efficient but is only possible during disease relapse. Therefore, it is not helpful for patients in the terminal stage of the disease.