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  • Acute myeloid leukemia

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    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells that build up in the bone marrow and blood and interfere with normal blood cells. Symptoms may include feeling tired, shortness of breath, easy bruising and bleeding, and increased risk of infection. Occasionally spread may occur to the brain, skin, or gums. As an acute leukemia, AML progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated. Risk factors include smoking, previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy, myelodysplastic syndrome, and exposure to the chemical benzene. The underlying mechanism involves replacement of normal bone marrow with leukemia cells, which results in a drop in red blood cells, platelets, and normal white blood cells. Diagnosis is generally based on bone marrow aspiration and specific blood tests. AML has several subtypes; for which treatments and outcomes may vary. AML, typically is initially treated with chemotherapy aimed at inducing remission. People may then go on to receive additional chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell transplant. The specific genetic mutations present within the cancer cells may guide therapy, as well as determine how long that person is likely to survive. Arsenic trioxide may be tried in cases that have recurred following usual treatments. AML affected about one million people globally in 2015 and resulted in 147,000 deaths. It most commonly occurs in older adults. Males are affected more often than females. AML is curable in about 35% of people under 60 years old and 10% over 60 years old. Older people who are not healthy enough to receive intensive chemotherapy have a typical survival of 5–10 months. It accounts for roughly 1.8% of cancer deaths in the United States.

  • Bloodletting

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    Ancient Greek painting on a vase, showing a physician (iatros) bleeding a patientBloodletting (or blood-letting) is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease. Bloodletting, whether by a physician or by leeches, was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humours" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health. It is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years. In Europe the practice continued to be relatively common until the end of the 18th century. The practice has now been abandoned by modern style medicine for all except a few very specific conditions. It is conceivable that historically, in the absence of other treatments for hypertension, bloodletting sometimes had a beneficial effect in temporarily reducing blood pressure by reducing blood volume. However, since hypertension is very often asymptomatic and thus undiagnosable without modern methods, this effect was unintentional.

  • Polychromasia

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    Polychromasia (also known as polychromatophilia) is a disorder where there is an abnormally high number of immature red blood cells found in the bloodstream as a result of being prematurely released from the bone marrow during blood formation. (poly- refers to many, and -chromasia means color.) These cells are often shades of grayish blue. Polychromasia is usually a sign of bone marrow stress as well as immature red blood cells. 3 types are recognized, with types (1) and (2) being referred to as 'young red blood cells' and type (3) as 'old red blood cells'. Giemsa stain is used to distinguish all three types in blood smears. The young cells will generally stain gray or blue in the cytoplasm. These young red blood cells are commonly called reticulocytes. All polychromatophilic cells are reticulocytes, however, not all reticulocytes are polychromatophilic. In the old blood cells, the cytoplasm either stains a light orange or does not stain at all.

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