What People Should Know About Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia

A few percentage of people may suffer from acute promyelocytic leukemia, a unique type of leukemia associated with certain biologic and clinical characteristics. Those who have this disorder have a decrease in the plasminogen levels, as well as the alpha 2-plasmin inhibitor. In all cases of patients with this leukemia, there is an observed increase in the production of fibrinolysis and plasmin. Patients that suffer from acute leukemia may have cogulopathy, and this is a medical emergency. Those who are untreated for leukemia may suffer from cerebral hemorrhages that can be fatal. Typically, medication for coagulopathy takes about 8 days to become effective.

Symptoms Of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia

Patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia are observed to show pallor, bleeding in the gums, and petechiae. When a patient also suffers from severe anemia, there is a flow murmur that may be observed from physical examinations. An involvement of the central nervous system can result to severe headaches among patients. Other people who suffer from the disease may experience additional symptoms depending on the affected part of the body.

Diagnosis And Work Up

Those who experience symptoms should visit their doctor, so that further tests may be made. The initial test that is done for the diagnosis of acute promyelocytic leukemia is a complete blood count. The CBC test will reveal the actual number of essential blood groups in the body. The doctor will request for a peripheral blood smear, differential count, and metabolic profile for liver and renal function tests. Additional tests include fibrinogen measurements, prothrombin time, and electrolyte levels.

Some patients may have an existing high amount of white blood cell, and they are considered as high risk patients. Those who have such characteristics should undergo lumbar puncture in order for doctors to diagnose the presence of acute promyelocytic leukemia. However, a patient that suffers from coagulopathy needs to obtain medication from this symptom. The doctor may advise for the delay of lumbar puncture, so that coagulopathy will be treated.

Treatment And Medication

The best treatment for patients depends on the particular case or stage of the disease. Medical specialists and trained doctors can provide the ideal supportive and pharmacologic treatment to patients. In some cases, platelet transfusion may be required for patients with severe decrease in platelet count.

Treatment options for this type of acute leukemia include different phases such as induction, maintenance, and consolidation. For elderly patients, doctors may recommend induction therapy as the ideal treatment option. However, some patients respond perfectly in maintenance therapy. In fact, this method is effective for patients that suffer from relapse.
Patients with severe cases of the disease can benefit from consolidation and induction therapy. Chemotherapy and drugs such as ATRA and anthracycline is proven to be an effective treatment for patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia.