Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, usually the white blood cells.
What are the types of leukemia?
There are four main types of leukemia, which can be further divided into subtypes. When classifying the type of leukemia, the first steps are to determine if the cancer is:
1. Lymphocytic or myelogenous leukemia:
Cancer can occur in either the lymphoid or myeloid white blood cells.
When the cancer develops in the lymphocytes (lymphoid cells), it is called lymphocytic leukemia.
When the cancer develops in the granulocytes or monocytes (myeloid cells), it is called myelogenous leukemia.
2. Acute or chronic leukemia:
Leukemia is either acute or chronic.
Acute leukemia. The new or immature cells, called blasts, remain very immature and cannot perform their functions. The blasts increase in number rapidly, and the disease progresses quickly.
Chronic leukemia. There are some blast cells present, but they are more mature and are able to perform some of their functions. The cells grow more slowly, and the number increases less quickly, so the disease progresses gradually.
Based on these findings, the leukemia is then classified into one of the four main types of leukemias: acute myelogenous leukemia (AML); chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL); or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.
Normally, the lymphocytes fight infection by making antibodies that attack harmful elements. But, in ALL, the cells are immature and overabundant. They crowd out other blood cells, and may collect in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph tissue.
Acute leukemia can grow quickly and requires treatment as soon as possible after it is found. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of patients.
ALL is more common in children than adults, with most children younger than five years of age when the cancer is found. According to the American Cancer Society, about 6,000 cases of ALL are expected in 2012, The average person has about a one in 800 chance of developing ALL.
The following are some of the most common symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute lymphocytic leukemia may include the following:
Specific treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
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