Leukemia: Here Is A Complete Guide For You

Leukemia: Here Is A Complete Guide For You
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Leukemia is a group of blood cancers that affect the blood cells of your body, mostly the white blood cells. When white blood cells don’t grow as they should, leukemia can form. Doctors often diagnose leukemia in people above the age of 55 years. However, it is also the most common type of cancer in children below 15 years.

What is Leukemia?

The problem of leukemia begins when the DNA of a single cell in your bone marrow starts changing and is not able to develop and function normally. When you suffer from this type of cancer, Leukemia cells start behaving like abnormal white blood cells.

Treatments for leukemia usually depend upon the type of leukemia you suffer from, your overall health, and your age. In case, leukemia has spread to other organs or tissues then the doctor will suggest the treatment accordingly.

Unlike other cancers, leukemia does not form a mass (tumor) usually that is visible in imaging tests like CT scans or X-rays.

Symptoms of Leukemia

Depending upon the type of leukemia you suffer from, the symptoms might differ. However, some of the most common signs and symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Losing weight without trying
  • Fever or chills
  • Severe or frequent infections
  • Persistent fatigue or weakness
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Excessive sweating, mainly at night
  • Swollen lymph nodes, spleen, or enlarged liver
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Tiny red spots on your skin

Types of leukemia

The start of leukemia can be acute or chronic. In acute leukemia, cancer cells start multiplying rapidly. While in chronic leukemia, the disease grows slowly and the early symptoms might be mild.

Here are four types of leukemia:

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid leukemia occurs in both children as well as adults. It is also considered the most common form of leukemia. The five year survival rate for this type of leukemia is only 29.5%.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)

This type of leukemia is very common in children. It is noticed that almost 6,000 new cases of Acute lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed each year. The 5 year survival rate for Acute lymphocytic leukemia is only 69.9%.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Chronic myeloid leukemia generally affects adults. The 5 year survival rate for CML is 70.6%. Annually almost 9000 new cases of chronic myeloid leukemia are diagnosed.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is known for affecting people who are above the age of 55 years. It is rarely found in children. Almost 21,000 new cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed every year. 87.2 % is the 5-year survival rate for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Thus, depending upon the type of leukemia you suffer from, the doctor will recommend treatment.

Leukemia causes and risk factors

The exact causes of leukemia are still not known. People who suffer from leukemia often have certain unusual chromosomes. However, the chromosomes do not cause leukemia.

You might be at a higher risk to suffer from leukemia if you:

  • Are open to a lot of radiation or specific chemicals
  • Have a family history of leukemia
  • Smoke
  • Have a genetic disorder such as down syndrome
  • Had radiation therapy or chemotherapy in order to treat cancer

Leukemia begins in the bone marrow which is a sponge-like tissue present at the center of your bone. You need to know that blood stem cells in the bone marrow mature in either:

  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • White blood cells

When you suffer from leukemia, several white blood cells form and overtake healthy blood cells. As a result, the healthy blood cells are not able to work the way they should.

How leukemia is treated?

When it comes to the treatments of leukemia, it generally depends upon the type of leukemia you suffer from. The doctor will also determine the treatment according to your age, overall health, and whether leukemia has spread to other organs or tissues.

Some of the common treatments for Leukemia include:


Chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of leukemia treatment. The chemicals used in chemotherapy help to kill leukemia cells or stop them from multiplying.


In this treatment, certain drugs are used to boost the defense system of your body i.e., the immune system. This further helps you to deal with leukemia effectively.

Targeted therapy

During this treatment, the doctor used medications that are formulated to attack particular parts of leukemia cells that are responsible for overtaking your normal blood cells.

Therefore, if you suffer from any of the symptoms of leukemia, make sure to consult the doctor immediately. In this way, your condition will be diagnosed quickly. Remember no doctor can predict your condition unless your health and leukemia are understood.