Leukemia Health (cont.)

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More Leukemia Overview

In summary, the four main types of leukemia are as follows:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia

Less common types include hairy cell leukemia and human T-cell leukemia.

Leukemia affects people of all ages. Approximately 85% of leukemias in children are of the acute type.

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) affects both children and adults but is more common in children. It accounts for 65% of the acute leukemias in children.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is essentially an adult disorder and is almost twice as common as chronic myelocytic leukemia.
  • Acute myelocytic leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults.
  • Chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML) is far more common in adults than in children.

As leukemic cells grow and eventually outnumber normal cells, the following events occur:

  • The normal blood cells are disabled, resulting in conditions such as frequent infections, bleeding problems, poor healing of small cuts or sores, and anemia (low red blood cell count).
  • The leukemia cells may collect in certain parts of the body, causing pain, swelling, and other problems.
  • Identifying the type of leukemia is important, since this determines which treatment is given.

Leukemia of all forms is presently estimated to be diagnosed in about 53,000 people in the U.S. in 2014 (ACS - Facts and Figures 2014).

  • In adults, the acute leukemias occur in those of all ages, whereas the chronic varieties, particularly CLL, tend to occur in people older than 40 years.
  • Leukemia is one of the most common cancers of children.
  • Leukemia is more common in people of European descent than in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, or Native Americans.

Survival rates in leukemia have risen dramatically in the last 40 years with improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

  • In 1960, the overall 5-year survival rate for all leukemias was about 14%. It is now about 55%.
  • The highest survival rates occur in children with the so-called "common" ALL type.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2014

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