When the cancer appears within the tissues that create the blood, including the bone marrow and lymphatic system as well, it is called leukemia. Leukemia can be of various types and some of them are characteristic for children, while on the other hand, there are some types of leukemia that mainly occur in adults.
This cancer begins in the white blood cells, which are the part of the body’s immune system since they have the prominent role in fighting against the foreign bodies that enter the body. When one suffers from leukemia, the bone marrow creates abnormal amounts of the leukocytes.
Symptoms and causes of leukemia
What symptoms of leukemia will appear depends on the type of this dangerous disease. However, there are several symptoms that are common for all types and they are recurrent infections, fever or chills, swollen lymph nodes and enlarged liver or enlarged spleen. Furthermore, people who suffer from leukemia may also experience constant fatigue, excessive sweating (mostly at night), pain in the bones and unexplained weight loss. Petechiae, which are small red spots that appear on the skin, as well as easy bruising and easy bleeding, are also some of the symptoms of this serious and life threatening disease.
Although the experts have not come to the main cause for the occurrence of this cancer, it is believed that leukemia occurs due to certain genetic and environmental factors. The mutation of the DNA of the blood cells causes the cells to grow abnormally, thus resulting in the development of leukemia.
Types of leukemia
The first classification of leukemia is done according to the speed of the progression of this cancer, and according to this classification, leukemia can be acute and chronic. In acute leukemia, immature blood cells overproduce very fast and they cannot work normally so the progression of leukemia is very rapid. On the other side, chronic leukemia involves mature blood cells that can function for a while and they multiply themselves slowly.
There is also a classification done according to the types of the blood cells that are affected and according to this classification, leukemia can be lymphocytic leukemia and myelogenous leukemia. While lymphocytic leukemia affects lymphocytes that produce lymphatic tissue, myelogenous leukemia involves myeloid cells, which have the role to produce red and white blood cells, as well as the platelets. These two types of leukemia can be either acute or chronic. There are also some uncommon types of this serious disease, like hairy cell leukemia, for example.