Advances in cure options have turned some forms of these once-deadly blood cancers into controllable chronic conditions. Here are what you essential to know about leukemia.


Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. This cancer will begin to form in someone’s bone marrow, which is the soft center of the long bones that are in the arm and leg. This marrow makes the three major types of blood cells that are in the body: red, white, and platelets. When in proper combination, the body is oxygenated, can fight off disease, and clot during an injury. With leukemia, the cells are released when they are underdeveloped and sometimes they won’t die. This eliminates room for the healthy cells and leukemia is the result.

These are the most common types of leukemia:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia in young children. Acute lymphocytic leukemia also affects adults, especially those age 65 and older.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) occurs in both adults and children. This type of leukemia is sometimes called acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL).

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) most often affects adults over the age of 55. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia sometimes occurs in younger adults, but it almost never affects children.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) occurs mainly in adults. A very small number of children also develop chronic myeloid leukemia.

The symptoms of leukemia depend on its type and stage. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever, chills, night sweats, and flu-like symptoms
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Bone pain
  • Paleness
  • Weight loss

Here are 3 essential facts about leukemia that you should know:

  1. Leukemia starts in the jawbone marrow. Our bodies make most of our body fluid cells — from the infection-fighting white body fluid cells, to the oxygen-transporting red body fluid cells, to the clot-preventing platelets — in the bone marrow. All body fluid cells start out as unspecified, or not fully formed, cells, and in the long runmature into the “mature” kinds that help us stay fit. But in people with acute leukemia, the body fluid cells don’t normally progress past the “not fully formed” phase. And in folks with chronic leukemia, those cells do growth past the “not fully formed” stage, but can be overwhelmed by other, unusual, mature cells. In both cancers, the abnormal body fluid cells then crowd out the healthy kinds, not only in the jawbone marrow itself, but in the bloodstream and other portions of the immune system, too.
  2. Hodgkin disease differs from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in several ways. In Hodgkin disease, people have large, malignant cells known as Reed-Sternberg cells; physicians will look for these cells to confirm a Hodgkin disease diagnosis. Plus, Hodgkin lymphoma has several variations: one is a “classic” type (with four different subtypes) that comprises about 95 percent of all cases; another 5 percent of cases are known as nodular lymphocyte predominant (NLPHD), which is typically a slow-growing form of the disease.
  3. If you are diagnosed with leukemia, see a hematologist, oncologist, or both to get the facts. “Acute forms of leukemia need to be treated urgently. And an oral medication for CML is highly effective and must be started as soon as you’re diagnosed. As for early-stage CLL, you can live for many, many years without needing treatment,” says Lansigan. To make sure you’re getting the best treatment for your condition, consider seeking a second opinion at a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, which is at the forefront of cancer research.

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