Leukaemia is a cancer which occurs in the blood forming tissue (bone marrow) causing an over production of abnormal white blood cells. The bone marrow can form either myeloid or lymphoid stem cells which go on to form different cells found within blood. There are four types of leukaemia: Acute myeloid leukaemia, Chronic myeloid leukaemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and Chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Acute leukaemia progresses rapidly but can be cured by bone marrow transplants especially in younger patients. Chronic leukaemia progresses slowly but not usually cured, just treated and managed. Most leukaemias are common in males and older people except acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which is common in children and treated effectively.
The signs and symptoms are vague and non-specific and therefore needs to be diagnosed with a laboratory test. The bone marrow is affected by the cancer and so the body cannot make the large numbers of normal blood cells it needs. This results in anaemia, weakness, increased infections, fever, malaise, bleeding and bruising. In acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, young children may have joint or bone pain. In actute myeloid leukaemia, the gums can appear swollen. If the cancer has become malignant, lymph glands can become swollen or the liver or spleen become enlarged.
There is no obvious cause of leukaemia but risk factors include age, gender, chemical exposure and genetics.
Not all patients with leukaemia start treatment straight away. In cases of chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia, patient sometimes never receive treatment for their condition. Almost all patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia will start treatment soon after diagnosis. Leukaemia is treated with chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow stem cell transplant, biological therapy.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.