Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. Abnormal production of white blood cells in the bone marrow causes leukemia. Mutations in the DNA inside the normal bone marrow cells, trigger the oncogenes by deactivating the tumor suppresser genes.
Leukemia is the most common cancer in children younger than 15 years and common in adults older than 55. Leukemia can either be acute or chronic. Acute leukemia is a fast growing cancer and they get worse quickly. Chronic leukemia is slow growing cancer, they do not develop any symptoms at the early stages. Men are more likely to be affected by leukemia than women.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children. 5-year survival rate is 92.9 % for children younger than 5 years. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) occurs in both children and adults 5-year survival rate is 26 % in adults and 66.5 % in children younger than 15 years. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs in adults, 5-year survival rate is 84.8 % and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) affects adults, they do not develop any symptoms. 5-year relative survival rate is 63.2 %.
Hairy cell leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders are the rare types of leukemia. Pregnant women are rarely affected with leukemia.
Blood test is done to check the amount of increased white blood cell count and bone marrow sampling is performed to find out what type of leukemia is present.Treatment is based on the types of leukemia and extent of the disease. ALL can be cured in children. Chemotherapy is used to treat leukemia.
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