Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are produced. In leukemia, abnormal white blood cells are produced in large quantities, and they do not function properly, leading to a wide range of symptoms.
There are several types of leukemia, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The different types of leukemia are distinguished by the type of blood cell that is affected and the rate at which the cancer progresses.
The exact cause of leukemia is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of genetic mutations that occur in the bone marrow cells, which lead to the production of abnormal white blood cells. Certain risk factors, such as exposure to radiation, certain chemicals, or certain viruses, may increase the risk of developing leukemia.
Symptoms of leukemia can vary depending on the type of leukemia and the stage of the disease, but may include fatigue, weakness, recurrent infections, fever, bruising or bleeding easily, weight loss, and bone pain.
Treatment for leukemia typically involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation. Other treatments, such as targeted therapies, immunotherapy, or biological therapy, may also be used to help control the growth of abnormal cells.
The prognosis for leukemia depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the age and overall health of the patient, and how well the patient responds to treatment. With early detection and appropriate treatment, many people with leukemia can achieve remission and live for many years after their diagnosis.