Leukemia: A Brief Overview

Cancer doesn’t just impact the lungs, stomach and other organs in the body; it can also develop in your bloodstream. One such type of cancer is leukemia, which is diagnosed in tens of thousands of Americans each and every year.

Acute and Chronic Leukemia

When a person develops leukemia, many of their while blood cells lose the ability to fight off infections. In addition, this form of cancer also targets the spongy tissue inside the bones, commonly known as bone marrow. When affected by leukemia, the bone marrow’s ability to release red blood cells and platelets is compromised.

Leukemia can be subdivided into four specific cancers, which are further detailed below:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL): In the absence of proper treatment, ALL can spread quickly. This form of leukemia most commonly develops in children between the ages of three and five, though it can also develop in those over the age of 75. ALL interferes with healthy white blood cells by creating an overabundance of white blood cells called lymphocytes.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): Unlike ALL, acute myeloid leukemia begins in our myeloid cells, which serve as the precursors to white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. A fast-spreading type of cancer, AML depletes the bloodstream’s levels of both red and white blood cells, as well as curbing the number of platelets, cells primarily tasked with stopping bleeding. AML usually develops in seniors.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): The form of leukemia most likely to develop in adults is chronic lymphocytic leukemia. CLL spreads at a slow pace, to the point that symptoms will not become apparent for years. Generally speaking, CLL is typically diagnosed in elderly individuals.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): Chronic myeloid leukemia, as with acute myeloid leukemia, first appears in the myeloid cells. In most cases, CML takes its time when spreading through the bloodstream. However, in some individuals this type of blood cancer can grow rapidly, making it especially hard to treat.

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