What is leukemia?
Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells.
Author: Jonathan Meddings
First answered: 12 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.7/5 Votes: 134
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Symptoms of leukemia vary slightly according to what type it is, but usually include fatigue, frequent and persistent infections, unusual bleeding and bruising, weight loss, an enlarged spleen, abdominal discomfort, bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, and …
In many cases, the cause of leukemia is unknown. In the case of chronic myeloid leukemia, most cases are caused by a gene mutation within a single stem cell.
Anyone can get leukemia, but it is most common in older people, although different types tend to affect different age groups more. For example, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is more common in children.
Leukemia is diagnosed with a blood test. Blood test results that show a higher-than-normal number of white blood cells and a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells indicate the need for leukemia diagnostic tests.
How leukemia is treated depends on the type of leukemia you have. In general, leukemia is treated with chemotherapy, but there are specific treatments for some types of leukemia.
Leukemia is often considered to be cured if you have been free of the disease for at least five years. However, it is common for the cancer to return.
Leukemia cannot be prevented. You can reduce your risk of it developing by limiting your exposure to risk factors such as radiation, certain chemicals and cigarette smoking.
Leukaemias are classified according to the type and maturity of the white blood cells that are affected. Aggressive leukemia is referred to as acute, whereas leukemia that takes a long time to cause clinical problems is referred to as chronic.