The type of leukemia that I am dealing with is treatable. So if I do what my doctors tell me to do - get my blood checked regularly, take my meds and consult with my doctor and follow any additional instructions he might make - I will be able to maintain my good health and live my life with a minimum of disruptions to my lifestyle. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 

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Leukemia

Kathryn Ward, Colin David Gardner, and Rico Dence at Up Cancer
 Leukemia is common in the young adult cancer (AYA) community. Up Cancer is working to educate the community in learning the symptoms of Leukemia and understand the different types of Leukemia.   
  
What is Leukemia? 
Leukemia is a cancer of blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow and the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an essential part of the immune system. It removes excess fluid from tissues in the body, as well as producing immune cells.

Properly functioning white blood cells help fight infections, but people with leukemia have bone marrow that produces ineffective white blood cells which don't function properly.

Symptoms of Leukemia 

Patients fighting leukemia may experience many different symptoms. These can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Easily inflicted bleeding or bruises
  • Recurrent nosebleeds
  • Tiny red spots appearing in skin
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Night Sweats
  • Bone pain

How Dose Leukemia Form?

A leukemia patient's blood cells have acquired mutations in their DNA. These abnormalities cause the cells to continue living when they would normally die, and to divide more rapidly. The abnormal cells end up crowding out the healthy ones.

Classifications of Leukemia

There are two levels of classification for leukemia: one based on how fast the disease progresses, and one based on the type of white blood cell that is affected.

The first level of classification labels the disease as either acute or chronic.

Acute leukemia involves immature blood cells. In these cases, the disease progresses quickly.
Chronic leukemia involves more mature blood cells, and these cases progress more slowly. Chronic leukemia can go unnoticed for years.

The second level of classification labels the disease as either lymphocytic or myelogenous.

Lymphocytic leukemia affects lymphoid cells. Lymphoid cells create lymphatic tissue, which makes up your immune system. Myelogenous leukemia affects myeloid cells, which are responsible for creating blood cells.

Risk Factors to Leukemia

You may be at higher risk of leukemia if any of the following apply to you:
  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Genetic disorders
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Family history
  
Types of Leukemia
Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Leukemia can affect red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. There are seven different types of leukemia, some being specifically in adults and others specifically in children. Here are the main types of leukemia, but some may include additional subtypes. All information was derived from the National Cancer Institute

Adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer in which one’s bone marrow creates an overproduction of lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell. If not treated, this type of cancer progresses quickly. Common signs and symptoms include weakness or feeling tired, fever or night sweats, easy bruising or bleeding, petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin, caused by bleeding), shortness of breath, weight loss or loss of appetite, pain in the bones or stomach, pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs, painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin and having many infections.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer in which one’s body has an overproduction of lymphocytes which is a type of white blood cell created by the bone marrow. Compared to ALL, CLL progresses slower and over a longer time period. Common signs and symptoms include painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin, feeling very tired, pain or fullness below the ribs, fever and infection and weight loss for no known reason.


Adult Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer which affects the production of myeloblasts. The bone marrow produces an abnormal amount of myeloblasts, which is a type of white blood cell. Other names for AML include acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. AML is the most common acute leukemia in adults and has different subtypes depending on how developed the cancer cells are. The different subtypes include:
AML with recurrent genetic abnormalities
AML with myelodysplasia-related changes
Therapy related myeloid neoplasms
AML, Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
Myeloid Sarcoma
Myeloid proliferations related to Down Syndrome
Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm
Acute leukemias of ambiguous lineage
Knowing the specific subtype is important when determining treatment options. This list of subtypes is classified by The World Health Organization (WHO).

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) or Chonic Myeloid Leukemia  is a type of cancer in which one’s body has an overproduction of immature white blood cells created by the bone marrow.  Compared to AML, CML progresses slowly and over a longer time period. Signs and symptoms of CML include feeling very tired, weight loss for no known reason, night sweats, fever, pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side, but sometimes CML does not show any symptoms at all.
Hairy cell leukemia is a type of cancer in which one’s body has an overproduction of white blood cells created by the bone marrow. When viewed under a microscope these leukemia cells look “hairy”, giving it its name. This cancer is rare and either gets worse slowly or not at all. Signs and symptoms include weakness or feeling tired, fever or frequent infections, easy bruising or bleeding, shortness of breath, weight loss for no known reason, pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs, painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin.

Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is acute lymphoblastic leukemia that occurs in children, adolescents and young adults. Like ALL, this is a type of cancer in which the body has an overproduction of immature lymphocytes, which are white blood cells produced by the bone marrow. This is the most common type of childhood cancer. Signs and symptoms include fever, easy bruising or bleeding, petechiae (flat, pinpoint, dark-red spots under the skin caused by bleeding), bone or joint pain, painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin, pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs, weakness, feeling tired, or looking pale and loss of appetite.

Childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow produces many abnormal blood cells. Myeloblasts, also known as leukemia cells, do not become healthy white blood cells. These unhealthy cells can build up leaving less space for healthy white blood cells. There are also other myeloid diseases that can affect the blood and bone marrow including:
Transient abnormal myelopoiesis (TAM)
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)
Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)    
Signs and symptoms of AML and the other myeloid diseases include fever, feeling tired and easy bleeding or bruising.

If you experience any signs and symptoms of the above diagnoses, talk to your doctor. Many signs and symptoms can be other conditions.  Chances of recovery vary from case to case as well as treatment options.