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.
The new or immature cancer cells, called blasts, remain very immature and cannot perform their functions. The blasts increase in number rapidly, and the disease progresses quickly.
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 myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood usually in which too many early forms of white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.
Normally, bone marrow cells mature into several different types of blood cells. AML usually affects the young blood cells (called blasts) that normally develop into a type of white blood cell (called granulocytes). The main function of granulocytes is to destroy bacteria. The blasts, which do not mature and become too numerous, remain in the bone marrow and blood. Acute leukemia is a fast growing cancer that needs to be treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of AML patients.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 47,000 leukemia cases are expected in 2012. About 14,000 of these will be AML.
The following are the most common symptoms of AML. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of AML 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 AML may include the following:
Specific treatment for AML will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
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