WHAT IS LEUKEMIA?
Leukemia is the cancer of blood-forming tissues in your body. White blood cells in your body are used to help fight off infections. During Leukemia, your body produces abnormal white blood cells, prohibiting your body's ability to fight off infections and other diseases properly. Bone marrow cells can be mutated to form leukemia cells.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEUKEMIA?
There are 4 different types of Leukemia:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (bone marrow makes cells that are not yet mature)
- Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (a more severe type of AML)
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (abnormal white blood cells accumulate in bone marrow)
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (a more severe type of ALL)
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LEUKEMIA?
Symptoms of Leukemia include but are not limited to:
- Night sweating
- Extreme fatigue
- Prolonged or frequent infections
- Unexplained weight loss/gain
- Loss of appetite
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Petechiae (tiny red spots on skin)
- Joint/bone pain
Symptoms are often vague or not specific. Most of the time, chronic Leukemia can produce no symptoms early on and can be left unseen and undiagnosed for years. If you notice any of these symptoms and think you are at risk, you should see a doctor immediately.
Previous cancer treatments, genetic disorders, smoking, and a history of Leukemia in the family can all be risk factors of developing the cancer. However, there is no known specific cause.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Leukemia can be diagnosed through bone marrow, blood tests, or physical exams by a licensed physician or phlebotomists.
WHO IS LEUKEMIA MOST COMMON IN?
ALL is most common in children and teens, while the risk of CLL, AML, and CML increase with age. There is no specific race/ethnic group that Leukemia affects. Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children and teenagers, accounting for 1 in 3 cancers reported in people under 18.
There are various ways to treat Leukemia, depending on the type, how far along it is, and what caused it. Treatments include:
- Blood transfusion
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (restores immune system)
- Radiation therapy
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT LEUKEMIA?
There is no specific way to prevent Leukemia. However, you can help lessen the chance of you getting it by avoiding prolonged exposures to radiation, not smoking, and avoiding taking chemotherapy medications at all costs. Though these prevention strategies may help, it will not guarantee that you will never get Leukemia.