What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer in one’s blood cells caused by a rise in the number of white blood cells. There are two main types of white blood cells in your body: lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. Leukemia can happen in either type.

Leukemia types are grouped in two ways:

  • How fast it develops
  • The type of blood cells involved (myeloid or lymphoid)

Then, it is classified into one of two categories:

  • Acute leukemia: when most abnormal blood cells stay immature and can’t carry out normal functions. It can get bad very fast.
  • Chronic leukemia: when there are some immature cells, but there are still normal cells the function normally. Chronic leukemia follows a slower pace than acute leukemia.

What causes leukemia? Who is affected?

The exact cause of leukemia is unknown. Most scientists seem to believe that it is a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors.

Adults and children are both affected by this disease. It is more common in males than in females. It is also more common in whites than African Americans. If you are a smoker you are more prone to getting leukemia than a non-smoker.

What are the symptoms of leukemia?

There are many symptoms that accompany leukemia. Some symptoms are fatigue, feeling ill for a long period of time, bleeding or bruising easily, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of weight and appetite.

How is leukemia treated?

The main treatment for leukemia is chemotherapy. The amount of chemotherapy needed depends on how severe the case is. There are also several other treatments depending on the case such as biological therapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant. Each of these treatments deal with a certain part of the body.