In this Article
- Leukemia facts*
- What is leukemia?
- What are the types of leukemia?
- Who is at risk for leukemia?
- What are symptoms of leukemia?
- How is leukemia diagnosed?
- How is leukemia treated?
- How does someone get a second opinion about leukemia treatment?
- What happens after treatment for leukemia?
- How important is nutrition and physical activity for leukemia patients?
- What sort of follow-up care do leukemia patients need?
- What are some sources of support?
- What research is being done for leukemia?
- What resources are available to patients with leukemia?
- Take the Leukemia Quiz!
- Cancer Prevention Slideshow
- Cancer Symptoms Women Ignore
- Leukemia FAQs
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
Types of Leukemia
The types of leukemia can be grouped based on how quickly the disease develops and gets worse. Leukemia is either chronic (which usually gets worse slowly) or acute (which usually gets worse quickly):
- Chronic leukemia: Early in the disease, the leukemia cells can still do some of the work of normal white blood cells. People may not have any symptoms at first. Doctors often find chronic leukemia during a routine checkup - before there are any symptoms.
Slowly, chronic leukemia gets worse. As the number of leukemia cells in the blood increases, people get symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes or infections. When symptoms do appear, they are usually mild at first and get worse gradually.
- Acute leukemia: The leukemia cells can't do any of the work of normal white blood cells. The number of leukemia cells increases rapidly. Acute leukemia usually worsens quickly.
The types of leukemia also can be grouped based on the type of white blood cell that is affected. Leukemia can start in lymphoid cells or myeloid cells. See the picture of these cells. Leukemia that affects lymphoid cells is called lymphoid, lymphocytic, or lymphoblastic leukemia. Leukemia that affects myeloid cells is called myeloid, myelogenous, or myeloblastic leukemia.
There are four common types of leukemia:
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): CLL affects lymphoid cells and usually grows slowly. It accounts for more than 15,000 new cases of leukemia each year. Most often, people diagnosed with the disease are over age 55. It almost never affects children.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): CML affects myeloid cells and usually grows slowly at first. It accounts for nearly 6,000 new cases of leukemia each year. It mainly affects adults.
- Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia (ALL): ALL affects lymphoid cells and grows quickly. It accounts for more than 6,000 new cases of leukemia each year. ALL is the most common type of leukemia in young children. It also affects adults.
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): AML affects myeloid cells and grows quickly. It accounts for more than 18,000 new cases of leukemia each year. It occurs in both adults and children.
Hairy cell leukemia is a rare type of chronic leukemia.
Viewers share their comments
Find out what women really need.