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Cancer-a report on a specific cancer i.e. leukemia and perhaps management, treatments and or how it effects the body, 

The report component of the course will be a scientific report based on a specific scientific topic i.e. a relevant scientific topic of interest or one relevant to today's society. A selection of topics will be available on LearnOnline and will also be discussed in greater detail in tutorials.

Try to decide on a topic that interests you or is one that is related to the area of education that you are interested in pursuing (and still grounded in something scientific). For example; if it is human health that you might want to gain entry into you could choose a topic related to that i.e. about exercise programs, obesity issues or the use of drugs in sport. If it is nursing or midwifery you could choose a topic related to; In vitro fertilisation (IVF), different genetic diseases in babies/children, cloning and the issues of embryonic stem cells or about breast feeding. If it is about the health sciences you could look at; new drugs or health treatments, new testing techniques for diseases. Other scientific areas you could look at include; more powerful lasers or x-ray scanning machines, different space programs or ideas about the cosmos and galaxy around us. If it is chemistry or other biological sciences you could look at; new technologies developed to view the world at the nano-scale (or even the atomic scale) and things being developed with nanotechnology and applications about that. Environmental sciences could investigate; ways to treat waste-water, new technologies to reduce pollution or developing more environmentally friendly products. All of the above are only examples to give you an idea of a few of the scientific areas that you could progress into and provide a couple of examples of the types of topics that might relate to those areas and hence be more interesting to investigate and write a scientific report on.

Some other example topics for the scientific report could be:

  • Cancer-a report on a specific cancer i.e. leukemia and perhaps management, treatments and or how it effects the body,

Types of cancer

Cancer is one of the most prevailing disorders that is becoming a threat to the human race worldwide. It is becoming more threatening to the human population, as there are several routes of cancer causing and the progress of the disease is very fast and tough to prevent. The key fact regarding cancer development is the abnormal cell growth, which the body immune system unable to control (Heim and Mitelman 2015). Thus, cancer is defined as a group of diseases, which involve abnormal cell growth with the potential to spread throughout the other body parts. In this report, the key focus would be a specific type of blood cancer, known as leukaemia. In this context, the cause of the disorder, how it is affecting the body and available treatments would be discussed.

Based on the cause and the affected parts of the body, the disease has been classified in several types of cancer. Some of the most common types of cancer are being listed here:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Lymphocytic leukemia
  • Myelogenous leukemia
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Hepatocellular (liver) cancer
  • Kidney cancer(renal cell cancer)
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Stomach cancer
  • Vaginal cancer

Among these common cancer types, leukaemia is one of the most common type, which will be discussed in the next part.

Leukaemia is malignant neoplasms, a specific group of cancer that results in high or abnormal number of white blood cells. The root of the cancer is embedded in bone marrow defects, where the white blood cells are produced and matured. The defected white blood cells are not fully developed and known as blasts. As a result of lack of normal white blood cells, symptoms like fever, tiredness, increased infection risk; bleeding and bruising problems are seen. As the white blood cells act as the protector of body from the infections affecting the body, as these are unable to act normally, the chance of infection increases (Almeida and Barry 2011).

                                                         

                                                                       Figure: Difference between normal and Leukaemia blood

                                                                                   (Source: Quackenbush and Sulston 2011)

Leukaemia: An overview

There are four major types of leukaemia:

Cell type

Acute

Chronic

Lymphocytic

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
(ALL)

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

(CLL)

Myelogenous

Acute myelogenous leukemia
(AML or myeloblastic)

Chronic myelogenous leukemia

(CML)

According to the severity:

  • Acute leukaemia:A rapid increase in the number of immature blood cells
  • Chronic leukaemia: Excessive build up of relatively mature, but still abnormal, white blood cells

According to affected blood cells:

  • Lymphocytic leukaemia:Affects the lymphocytes, which are immune fighting cells, i.e. T and B cells
  • Myelogenous leukaemia:Affects the myeloid cells including five types of myeloid white blood cells and platelets, i.e. neutrophil, basophil, eosinophil and monosites.

Specific type:

  • ALL:Most common type in children
  • CLL:Affects adults mostly adult over 55 years old
  • AML:More common in men than women and affects mostly children
  • CML:Affects mainly adults
  • Hairy cell leukaemia (HCL):About 80% of affected people are adult men. HCL is incurable but easily treatable.
  • T cell prolymphocyic leukaemia:It is a very aggressive and rare type, affects adults, especially men and treatment is difficult
  • Frequent bleeding, bruise, pinprick bleeds
  • Increased rate of infections, tonsil, diarrhoea, sore throat, paneumonia
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue, nausea, fever, chills
  • Weight loss
  • Migrane, seizure, pain

No single known factor has been reported as the cause of all types of leukaemia. Different types have different causes, as discussed earlier. It is the result of mutations in DNA, which may activate oncogenes or deactivate tumor suppressor gene, which ultimately leads to disruption of cell cycle, cell death and growth regulation. There are various reasons, which may lead to the mutation to DNA. For instance, exposing to radiation is a key cause of DNA damage, which includes Sr-90 emission from nuclear reactors. On the other hand, genetic predisposition for leukaemia development is another cause, which is promoted by heredity, family history or identical twins (Quackenbush and Sulston 2011). For instance, some people with chromosomal abnormality have increased risk of leukaemia development, i.e. genetic abnormality of philadelpia is related to CML development. Some non-ionizing radiation has been shown to have significant association with childhood leukaemia.

  • Complete blood count
  • Bone marrow examination
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Blood chemistry test
  • MRI, X-ray, Ultrasound, CT scan

Overall, leukaemia affects the body through disruption of the usual balance of the blood cells and the ability to act as body defence system. Overall the disease causes the development of abnormal and immature white blood cells, which are unable to complete their normal function to support the body system. As a result, the reduced level of white blood cells causes the immune system to be regulated in an abnormal fashion. As a result, body manifests several effects of leukaemia, which are as follows:

Anaemia- Leukaemia causes the production abnormal and immature blood cells; as a result the normal and mature blood cell production is ceased. As leukaemia causes less production of red blood cells, the oxygen circulation through the body is also reduced this leads to the anaemic symptoms in the patient (Mullighan et al. 2011).

Easy bruising and bleeding- Platelets are derived from the major type of white blood cells, i.e. macrophages. However, leukaemia affects the production and development of macrophages, as a result the platelet production is also negatively affected, which a key factor of blood is clotting. Thus, blood clotting becomes difficult and patient becomes prone to bruise and bleed from any parts of the body.

Susceptibility to infections- As white bloods are the defender of body immune system against any kinds of foreign pathogens, lack of these leads to downturn of body immune system, as a result the opportunistic pathogens grow and start to invade the body significantly, enhancing the risk of common to life-threatening infections (Smith and McKerrell 2013).

Causes of leukaemia

Swollen lymph nodes- Lymph nodes are composed of a cluster of lymphocytes. Leukaemia causes abnormal WBC and lymphocytes production, which causes cluster of these on lymph nodes in armpits, groin and throat, which causes swollen lymph nodes and pain.

General loss of wellbeing- As the overall body defence system is affected negatively; the overall physiological well being is lost. As body becomes susceptible to infection and lacks oxygen to every parts, tiredness, fatigue, nausea, weight loss promote an overall ill health.

There are several treatments available for treating specific type of leukaemia with a goal of ensuring the survival of the patient. However, it is known to all that chronic leukaemia cannot be cured, but the bellow mentioned therapies help to improve the disease status by controlling its progress.

Chemotherapy- It is the procedure of administrating medications that directly kills cancer cells. The treatment may include oral pills or intravenous administration directly into the bloodstream. However, as these medications are targeted to the proliferating cells, sometimes these medications also harm and kill healthy proliferating cells, which cause common side effects (Campbell et al. 2011).

Biological therapy- It refers to the cancer treatment with living organisms. For instance, this treatment helps the immune system to recognize the cells that are proliferating abnormally and attack them. As no foreign products are used, the severity of side effect is less than chemical therapies.

Targeted therapy- This therapy has been developed in recent decade, which promote identifying the target cancer cells and ceasing their growth instead of eradicate these cells rapidly, as a result the side effects are less severe than chemotherapy (Irving 2016). These therapies cause the target cells’ enlargement to be ceased, by interfering with their growth promoting factors.

Radiation therapy- This is a common stage of cancer therapy. This therapy utilizes the high energy radiation, targeting the cancer cells. These therapies are mainly used in case of the cancer, which has been started to metastasize throughout the body parts. However, exposure to the radiation is harmful for the normal and non-malignant cells.

Stem cell transplant- As the cancer causing defect is embedded at the root of blood cell production in bone marrow; replacing the defective stem cells in bone marrow with the wild type stem cells, capable of producing healthy blood cells, will lead to the production of wild type white blood cell, restoring the normal function of body. In these therapies, stem cell from a donor is transplanted through intravenous route (Mulroy et al. 2012).

Supportive treatment- Supportive treatments are provided for reducing the risk of secondary infections and other disorders, which may develop opportunistically, when the body defence system is weak as a result of leukaemia. Moreover, these therapies also help to minimize the risk of side effects of medical therapy of leukaemia. These supportive treatments include flu vaccine, anti-nausea medication and antibiotics to combat with infection.

Conclusion

No certain causes or factors can be specified as the causative factors of cancer, rather there are a set of factors, promoting specific type of cancer. Thus, prior understanding and implementing therapies for cancer treatment, the type and severity of cancer should be determined, understanding the root cause, which is needed to be ceased. Here, the focus was a specific type of cancer, i.e. leukaemia. The detailed causes, classification, symptoms, effects upon the body and available treatment of the cancer type have been discussed here.

Reference List

Almeida, C.A. and Barry, S.A., 2011. Cancer: basic science and clinical aspects. John Wiley & Sons.

Campbell, P.J., Harrison, C. and Green, A.R., 2011. Myeloproliferative neoplasms. Postgraduate Haematology, Seventh Edition, pp.474-499.

Heim, S. and Mitelman, F., 2015. Cancer cytogenetics: chromosomal and molecular genetic aberrations of tumor cells. John Wiley & Sons.

Irving, J.A., 2016. Towards an understanding of the biology and targeted treatment of paediatric relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. British journal of haematology, 172(5), pp.655-666.

Mullighan, C.G., Zhang, J., Kasper, L.H., Lerach, S., Payne-Turner, D., Phillips, L.A., Heatley, S.L., Holmfeldt, L., Collins-Underwood, J.R., Ma, J. and Buetow, K.H., 2011. CREBBP mutations in relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Nature, 471(7337), pp.235-239.

Mulroy, E., Joyce, E., Scott, J., Melling, J., Goggin, C., Mahon, N., O’Rourke, K. and Lynch, T., 2012. Long-term risk of leukaemia or cardiomyopathy after mitoxantrone therapy for multiple sclerosis. European neurology, 67(1), pp.45-47.

Quackenbush, J. and Sulston, J., 2011. The human genome: The book of essential knowledge. Imagine.

Smith, M.L. and McKerrell, T., 2013. Acute myeloid leukaemia. The Genetic Basis of Haematological Cancers, pp.133-202.

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