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acute myeloid leukemia
Acute myeloid leukemia is
one of four main types of
leukemia that strike both
children and adults.

Blood is primarily made up of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all the body's tissues from the lungs - and white blood cells, which primarily help the body fight off infection.

From the Greek meaning "white blood", leukemia typically begins in the white blood cells or in the bone marrow where white blood cells are produced.

Leukemia disrupts this normal process by introducing a large number of abnormal white blood cells which don't perform properly and can eventually decrease the body's ability to fight off disease.

Leukemia causes & symptoms

Although it has been suggested that exposure to certain chemicals, radiation, chemotherapy, or that hereditary and genetic factors may be possible risks, the causes of leukemia are still unknown.

The general signs of the disease usually include a feeling of weakness or fatigue, abnormal bruising or wounds that are slow to heal, bone or joint pain, or anemia (low red blood cell count.)

diagram showing leukemia symptoms

The four main types of leukemia result in varying symptoms, and call for different treatments.

Although childhood leukemia is one of the most common cancers found in children (the more "acute" faster growing type), leukemia can affect people of all ages. It is usually diagnosed as the slower growing or "chronic" form in adults over 40.

Identifying the exact type of leukemia is important, since this determines the correct treatments. These may include a single or a combination of therapies including bone marrow transplants, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or stem cell transplantation.

Four main types of leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)

  • Develops from lymphocytes, or
    bone marrow cells.

  • Most common cancer in children

  • Progresses rapidly

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

  • Develops from lymphocytes, or
    bone marrow cells.

  • Occurs almost always in adults

  • Progresses slowly

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

  • Develops from either granulocytes or
    monocytes (white blood cells)

  • Affects children and adults

  • Progresses rapidly

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

  • Develops from granulocytes or
    monocytes (white blood cells)

  • Primarily affects adults

  • Progresses slowly

More about leukemia around the Web:

Research on the use of stem cells from a patient's bone marrow.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- Check out this major advocacy group with busy online discussion boards offering patient, family and caregiver support, facts & information on treatment, diagnosis, childhood leukemia, related research news, clinical trials, and a helpful FAQ.

What You Need to Know About Leukemia - Online informational booklet from the National Cancer Institute with extensive and clear information on leukemia types, symptoms and therapies, how to prepare for treatment and related side effects, follow-up care, research outlook.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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