Causes and Types of Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bloodstream. It develops when blood cells in the bone marrow change and become leukemia cells. Once they are leukemia cells, they divide at a faster rate than normal and build up in the bone marrow because they cannot die. The overcrowding causes them to move into the bloodstream from the bone marrow. It transfers to the rest of the body as the cells continue to increase. It also causes the number of white blood cells in the body to increase. The most telltale symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Chills and fever
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Tender bones
  • Bone pain
  • Lymph nodes that are swollen
  • Severe and frequent infections

While the main cause of leukemia is not known, many scientists believe that it is caused by genetic and environmental factors. Patients with a family history of cancer have a higher chance of developing leukemia. Leukemia is mainly classified in two groups, which are determined by the progression rate and the type of white blood cell that is affected:

1. Acute leukemia
In this type of leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are unable to carry out normal body functions because they are immature. This type of leukemia progresses rapidly and can worsen quickly if not treated quickly. Acute myeloid is a type of leukemia in this category. Acute myeloid requires aggressive treatment.

2. Chronic leukemia
Chronic leukemia is a type where the blood cells are mature, and their replication is slower and overtime. The cells may be produced in large quantities or small quantities. This type of leukemia can easily go unnoticed because the body functions normally. Chronic myeloid leukemia falls here and takes years to develop. Chronic myeloid leukemia is more common in adults

3. Lymphocytic leukemia
This is the type of leukemia that affects the lymphoid cells. Lymphoid cells are responsible for forming lymphoid tissue which makes up the immune system. Acute lymphocytic leukemia falls under this category and occurs mostly in children. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is acute because the cells progress quickly and affect the lymphoid cells.

4. Myelogenous leukemia
This is the type of leukemia that affects the myeloid cells. Myeloid cells are responsible for producing white blood cells, platelet-producing cells, and red blood cells. Chronic myelogenous leukemia falls under this category, and it takes years to develop. It is more common in adults, and one can live for many years without experiencing any symptoms.

Ultimately, leukemia is a type of cancer that is deadly and causes death among many adults and children in America. While it cannot be treated, there are various medications patients can take to kill cancer causing cells and prevent them from multiplying.