(August – October)
Every year thousands of children and young adults are diagnosed with life-threatening blood disorders like various types of leukemia. Leukemia or cancer of the white blood cells is a group of bone marrow diseases, where there is an uncontrolled increase in white blood cells (leukocytes). Treatment for leukemia can be complex, depending on the type.
Often, the only hope for survival is a bone marrow stem cell transplant. The chances of a sibling being a bone marrow match are 30%, while that of a non-related donor is 70%.
Common signs and symptoms: fever or chills, persistent fatigue, weakness, frequent or severe infections, unexplained weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver, quick bleeding or bruising, recurrent nosebleeds, tiny red spots on the skin, bone pain or tenderness.
The exact cause of leukemia is not known it appears to have a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Watch out for factors that may increase the risk of leukemia Previous cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation therapy), genetic abnormalities, genetic disorders (Down Syndrome), exposure to chemicals like benzene & formaldehyde, smoking, and family history of leukemia
Some factors are beyond our control such as genetics or Down Syndrome. What we can control and change our diet, exercise, and environmental factors.
• Eat healthily. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A balanced diet helps reduce the risk of cancer.
• Exercise. Regular exercise lowers the risk of cancer. Do at least 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days of the week. If you haven’t been exercising, start out slowly and work out for 30 minutes or more.
• Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to several types of cancer.
Avoid excessive sun exposure. Stay in the shade as far as possible, use protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of cancer.
• Schedule cancer screening exams. Speak to your doctor about the types of cancer screening exams that are best for you based on your risk factors.
• Get immunized. Certain viruses increase the risk of cancer. Immunizations may help prevent these viruses.