Aggressive NK cell leukaemia is a rare form of lymphoid cancer that affects the natural killer cells of the immune system. It is caused by a mutation in the genes that control the development, growth and maturation of the NK cells.
Diagnosis of aggressive NK cell leukaemia is typically done through physical examination, blood tests, imaging studies, bone marrow biopsy and flow cytometry. Blood tests such as white blood cell counts, platelet counts and liver enzyme levels are done to look for signs of the disease. Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans can be done to look for any enlarged organs or tumours. A bone marrow biopsy is done to confirm the diagnosis. Flow cytometry is used to identify the abnormal NK cells.
Differential diagnosis of aggressive NK cell leukaemia includes other forms of lymphoid cancer such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Treatment of aggressive NK cell leukaemia usually involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of both. Targeted therapy may also be used to reduce the number of NK cells in the body.
The prognosis of aggressive NK cell leukaemia depends on the stage of the disease, the age of the patient and the response to treatment. It can be curable in some cases, but in more advanced cases it may require long-term treatment or a stem cell transplant.