Types of leukemia

There are four main types of leukemia which are common and one rare type. Leukemia cancer that is found in the blood cells, but it begins in bone marrow. The four main types of leukemia are Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Hairy Cell Leukemia is the fifth and rarest type of leukemia.

The most common types of leukemia are the Chronic Lymphocytic and Acute Myeloid. The Acute Lymphocytic type is the most common type found in children. There are really two major divisions of the four types of leukemia. These two divisions are:

  • The chronic, which involve cancer cells that grow slowly and over a long period of time. The person may not have any symptoms for many years before it is discovered.
  • The acute, which involves cancer cells that divide and grow rapidly. The patient will begin having symptoms right away with this type of leukemia.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukima (CLL) is the type where too many mature white blood cells are produced. This type most commonly affects adults around the age of 60. More men than women develop CLL. People who have this type of leukemia often suffer from fatigue, weakness, fevers and night sweats. The person will lose weight due to poor appetite. The lymph glands and spleen often become swollen and painful. CLL often makes the person more susceptible to infections as well. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for CLL. The early stages may not be treated as the disease will just be watched.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) is the type where there is an excess of both immature and mature white blood cells being produced. This is the type of leukemia that is more often found in men than women as well. It often occurs in men around the age of 50. People with CML suffer from the same symptoms as those who have CLL. Chronic Mylogenous leukemia has three phases it goes through; chronic phase, accelerated phase and blast phase. In the blast phase the CML can turn into a more serious form of leukemia. The phase that the leukemia is in will determine the type of treatment. Treatment can be bone marrow transplants, radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) is the type that affects an excess number of blood cells in the immune system. These blood cells are called lymphocytes. This is the most common type found in children and will usually occur between the ages of 2 and 5. Some adults can develop ALL as well. If caught soon enough the likelihood of successful treatment is high. Patients with ALL have pale skin, experience fever, loss of appetite, bone pain, fatigue and increased occurrence of infection. ALL has various other subtypes which are associated with various proteins found on the surface of the white blood cells. Different chromosome changes in the cells are also commonly found. Treatment for this type of leukemia can include bone marrow transplant, radiation and chemotherapy.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is the type that produces an excess number of white blood cells called myelocytes. This type is also more common in men than women. AML is not an inherited type of leukemia like the others are thought to be. Exposure to chemicals, excess radiation, use of tobacco and medications used in chemotherapy for other cancers can cause it. AML if often found in children with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders as well. Aside from weight loss due to a poor appetite, fatigue and fever, the patient will also experience easy bruising and/or bleeding. There are different subtypes under AML. Treatment options vary depending on the subtype.

Hairy Cell Leukemia is a slow growing blood cancer and is very rare. This type causes an excess growth of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell associated with the immune system. These cells are the ones labeled B cells. Hairy Cell leukemia causes the B cells to look hairy. It inflicts more men than women and is common in the middle aged and elderly. Proper treatment can lead to many years of remission.

Last updated on Jan 28th, 2011 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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