Leukemia is a cancer that affects the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. There are different types of leukemia, which are:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukemia in young children. In rare cases, it is identified in adults as well. In this type of leukemia, immature lymphoid cells grow rapidly in the blood.
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). This type of leukemia both in children and adults, which involves the rapid growth of myeloid cells.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). With CLL, the most common chronic adult leukemia, you can go on for years without needing treatment.
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This type of leukemia is a slow growing cancer. A person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years before entering a phase in which the leukemia cells grow more quickly. This type of cancer mainly affects adults.
- Other types. The rarer types, these include hairy cell leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders.
Causes of Leukemia:
Leukemia develops from a combination of genetic (when some blood cells acquire mutations in their DNA) and environmental factors but there is no exact known cause of leukemia. In general terms, it occurs with certain abnormal growth of the cells that divides rapidly and causes normal cells to die. Over time, higher ratio of abnormal cells in healthy blood cells in the bone marrow leads to fewer healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets, causing the signs and symptoms of leukemia.
Common Symptoms of Leukemia:
- Pain in the bones or joints
- Swollen lymph nodes that usually don't hurt
- Sweating at night
- Feeling weak or tired
- Bleeding and bruising easily
- Frequent infections
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of weight or appetite
Like the fact that there is no known cause, there is no known way to prevent most types of leukemia. However, to prevent some types of leukemia, one should avoid high doses of radiation, exposure to the chemical benzene, smoking and other tobacco use, or certain types of chemotherapy which are used to treat other types of cancer.