Acute myelogenous leukemia is one of the forms of leukemia associated with exposure to benzene. Benzene is a colorless chemical that has a sweet odor and although it does naturally occur in the environment, it is closely present in industries that make paint, solvents, dyes and many household products. Those who work in the petroleum industry are particularly at risk because benzene is a by-product of the combustion of oil and gas.
Acute myelogenous leukemia is often called acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute myelocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. It is not contagious in any way so that if someone in your household does come down with this illness, there is no danger of others being affected. Exposure to benzene causes the cells in the blood and bone marrow to develop cancerous cells, which results in a failure of the bone marrow to produce healthy red blood cells. When a patientís bone marrow makes too many blast red blood cells (called immature cells) they prevent the bone marrow from making good blood cells and the patient develops anemia.
Some of the symptoms of anemia include:
Shortness of breath
However, if a patient has too few blood platelets, the symptoms may be more serious and include excessive bruising, frequent nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums, cuts that are slow to heal and spots appearing under the skin. A person with leukemia cells will also have a lot of infections and aches and pains in the bones and joints. There are also cases where patients with acute myelogemous leukemia experience little or no symptoms and often they do not realize that they are sick until a routine blood test discovers the abnormal cells.
Treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia involves chemotherapy. This process uses strong drugs to help kill the cancerous cells, but this treatment also kills normal cells in the process. While chemotherapy does help to restore normal blood cells, it does cause patients to feel nauseated, lose their hair, and increases the risk of contracting an infection. Patients under this treatment need to have their blood tested on a regular basis and contact the nearest hospital when they start to develop a fever. For most patients, a short regimen of chemotherapy restores the blood cells to their normal state. Chemotherapy continues until no sign of the cancerous cells show up in the blood work. When this happens, the patientís leukemia goes into remission. It may stay that way for years or resurface after a short period of time.
In some cases, chemotherapy does not have the desired effect of killing the abnormal cells. A transplant may be necessary to replace the cancerous cells with normal ones and there are two types of these transplants Ė autologous and allogenic. An autologus transplant means that the patients own cells are used and with an allogenic transplant the blood cells of a donor are used. This is also the most common because when the patientís own blood cells are used there is a greater risk of the leukemia returning.
If you have been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia because of an exposure to benzene at your workplace, there are lawyers that specialize in this legal field to help you claim compensation. The costs associated with the treatments are very high and if you were exposed to this carcinogen without your knowledge, then you have the right to sue those responsible to help pay for your medical costs and for your pain and suffering. A lawyer will assess your case and give you advice about how you should proceed. He/She works on a contingency basis, which means that you donít have to pay any money for the legal representation until the lawyer negotiates a satisfactory settlement.
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