Leukemia is a serious medical condition, a type of cancer which begins in the bone marrow and gradually leads to the excess production of abnormal white cells. The condition can be acute or chronic, requiring a careful treatment plan and permanent monitoring. While acute leukemia is a medical emergency, the chronic version requires long-term treatment.
Health apps can be valuable tools for those who have been diagnosed with leukemia, providing assistance whereas medication management is concerned. They increase the chance of medication adherence and allow one to carefully monitor the symptoms experienced. CareClinic is a health app that you can be used as a health tracker by those suffering from different types of leukemia.
A short overview of Leukemia
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in the United States, every three minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. Over 170.000 new cases of leukemia and other types of blood cancer have been diagnosed in 2018. In the future, the numbers of people diagnosed with leukemia will continue to increase (at least 10%).
The blood cancer known as leukemia is characterized by the increased production of white blood cells, which are normally responsible for protecting our bodies against various infections. As you will see below, there are different types of leukemia that can occur; the diagnosis will always be based on the progression and type of blood cells affected. As for the treatment, there are several options available, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy (R: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24784336).
CareClinic’s health app can ensure treatment adherence
Upon being diagnosed with leukemia, you will need to follow your treatment to the letter. The CareClinic health app allows you to enter the entire treatment plan, including chemotherapy sessions, medication of any kind and other therapies, such as biological or targeted. You can set up reminders for each and make sure that you adhere to the prescribed treatment.
The reminders of the application can also be used for doctor appointments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy sessions. This is especially important if you are having difficulties remembering each and every appointment. You will soon discover that the CareClinic health app offers valuable support, allowing you to manage your entire treatment plan from your smartphone (there is also a web version if you prefer using a computer).
It is useful to know that the health app has been specially developed for people diagnosed with chronic conditions, such as leukemia. The medication reminders are particularly important, as they can help you take your treatment on time. For example, if you have been diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, you will have to take a specific drug – known as Gleevec – every day (R: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055302/).
The application comes with an additional snooze feature, so that you are reminded to take your medication at regular intervals. This comes in handy not only for the specific leukemia treatment but for any other medication you might take – such as the one for pain relief or chemotherapy side-effects. For every type of medication, you can enter short notes on when and how to take it, as well as the required dose.
A health journal to document your condition
Aside from using the CareClinic health app as a medication reminder, you can take advantage of the built-in health journal. You can use this to keep track of your leukemia symptoms, analyze the side-effects of various therapies/treatments and record important health measurements, such as your blood pressure, blood count and weight.
All of the information you add into the application is saved and stored for future usage. At the end of each month, you are given a complete report, which you can export as a PDF document or print out. This report gives an overview of your condition, containing comprehensive charts and graphs; it can be a useful tool for your treating physician, especially when it comes to deciding whether the treatment is working or not (adjustments can be made based on it too).
How does leukemia start?
Leukemia is a blood cancer that targets the white blood cells in general, but it can also affect the red blood cells and platelets. The white blood cells are responsible for ensuring the healthy functioning of the immune system, fighting off infections of different kinds.
They are produced in the bone marrow, this often representing the starting point for leukemia. However, these are also produced in other organs, including the spleen, lymph nodes and thymus gland.
When someone suffers from leukemia, the white blood cells begin to function in an abnormal manner. They divide at a higher rate, affecting the other cells and leading to a wide range of manifestations, including anemia, bleeding and infection. The lymph nodes become swollen and one can experience pain of various intensities.
The prognosis of a patient diagnosed with leukemia depends on the type and, of course, the stage in which the diagnosis is made. The sooner the diagnosis is made, the better the outcome is going to be (early start of the treatment – better prognosis). Even though leukemia can be a life-threatening condition, the careful management can help one prolong his/her life and even be cured.
What are the different types of leukemia?
Leukemia can be classified in accordance with different factors, such as the rate of progress, type of affected blood cells, etc. (R: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14592643)
When it comes to the rate of progress, one can suffer from acute or chronic leukemia. The first is characterized by a fast development and requires emergency treatment. Chronic leukemia, on the other hand, is a long-term condition, which progresses at a slow rate. Moreover, one might not even exhibit symptoms in the early stages (first manifestations become visible after several years).
Depending on the type of affected blood cells, one can either suffer from lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) or myelogenous leukemia. The first affects the white blood cells, with the condition developing slowly over the course of time and the first symptoms appearing after several years. The second affects myeloid cells, which are responsible for the production of red blood cells, platelets, etc.
In general, there are four main types of leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia is typically diagnosed in adults, with several thousand people being diagnosed each year. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is diagnosed in children and it represents a common form of cancer in this category.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia affects people between 40 and 60 years of age, but it can appear at any age. Last, but not least, there is the chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which affects people over the age of 55. Less common types include hairy cell leukemia and acute promyelocytic leukemia.
What are the manifestations of leukemia?
The manifestations of leukemia depend, first and foremost, on the type. However, there are some general signs and symptoms that all patients with leukemia encounter. One can experience frequent fatigue, become predisposed to infections and anemia, lose weight and sweat profusely (particularly at night).
The lymph nodes can become inflamed, becoming palpable in specific areas (groin, neck, under the arm). One might experience bleeding, affecting the gums, rectum or nose. (R: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4758497/)
With the help of the CareClinic health app, you can document all of the symptoms experienced and share these with your doctor. The permanent recording of your manifestations will allow you to see how your condition is progressing and whether the treatment should be adjusted or not.
If leukemia is suspected, the doctor will inquire about your medical history and perform a physical examination. The diagnosis can be confirmed with the help of a blood test, so as to identifying the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The doctor will also analyze these cells under a microscope. The diagnosis is made definite with the help of the bone marrow and lymph node biopsy.
Are there any risk factors for leukemia?
Despite the extensive research, medical specialists have been unable to pinpoint an exact cause behind the appearance of leukemia. However, it is known that previous exposure to radiation, such as the radiotherapy undertaken for other conditions, can increase the risk of developing leukemia (R: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1516260/).
If you have followed treatments that weakened the immune system, such as chemotherapy or taken specific medication for this purpose, you may also be risk. Additional factors to consider include chemical exposure (benzene in particular), family history, smoking and genetic conditions (such as Down’s syndrome).
How is leukemia treated?
The treatment for leukemia depends on the type, stage and individual factors, such as the age, health status and previous treatments. As already mentioned, acute leukemia required immediate treatment, as it is a medical emergency.
When it comes to chronic leukemia, the treatment depends on the progression and the manifestations experienced by the patient. If no symptoms are present, the treatment might be delayed until it becomes a necessity. A major treatment goal is to eliminate the unhealthy white blood cells, so that healthy one can be produced once again the bone marrow.
Treatment options for chronic leukemia include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Both are meant to kill the leukemia cells, only the method differs. Stem cell transplantation has offered promising results, as well as the biological or immune therapy, and targeted therapy (with Gleevec). Experimental cell therapy might be used in the future for those who do not respond to conventional forms of treatment.
If you have been recommended to follow one or several of the treatment solutions from above, you can definitely make use of the CareClinic health app. You can record the treatment plan within the application and keep track of your progress, seeing how you respond to a certain therapy on a long-term basis. The app will generate reports and these can be used for treatment/therapy adjustment. (R: https://www.lls.org/sites/default/files/file_assets/understandingleukemia.pdf)
An application developed with leukemia patients in mind
As it was already mentioned above, the CareClinic health app has been developed so as to meet the need of patients suffering from long-term leukemia. The application has been developed in accordance with the feedback provided by users and, thanks to this feedback, it can be used by people of any age and type of leukemia.
The application allows one to adhere to the established treatment plan and monitor the progression of the condition, in a manner that can be described as both reliable and effective. With this application, you will feel more in control and be able to find the best strategies for improving the overall quality of life. It offers added support, serving as both medication/therapy reminder (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) and health tracker and helping you adjust your treatment regimen when necessary.
Leukemia is a serious condition and it should be treated such as. Trust the CareClinic health app to adhere to the treatment regimen and keep your condition under control.