About Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood, bone marrow or lymphoid system. The bone marrow is the soft tissue inside most bones, and is where blood cells are made. When a person is stricken with leukemia, there is an increase of immature white blood cells called blasts. These abnormal cells grow faster than normal cells and they don’t stop growing when they should.

Leukemia cells can crowd out normal blood cells. That can cause anemia, bleeding and infections. Those leukemia cells can spread to other organs or lymph nodes and cause swelling or pain.

Even though there are more than a dozen kinds of leukemia, there are four major types.

Acute leukemia has a rapid increase in the numbers of immature blood cells. There are two types:

Chronic leukemia is an overgrowth of mature white blood cells which are abnormal and occurs mostly in adults between the ages of 40 and 70. The main types are:

Additionally, other blood diseases closely related to leukemia include:

  • MDS (Myelodysplastic syndrome) which is a condition where the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough normal blood cells. This can sometimes progress to acute leukemia.
  • MPD (Myeloproliferative disease) is a condition where the bone marrow makes too many blood cells. Sometimes this disease moves so slowly that you don’t need treatment and at other times it develops into AML.

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