More and more research is being done now about leukemia and what we know about it. Scientists and researchers are learning more and more as they study its causes. They are also developing better and much more effective ways to treat it. Adults and children with leukemia can look forward to a better quality of life and less chance of dying from the disease because of all the research that has been done and continues to be done.
Leukemia is cancer that starts in the blood-forming tissue of the body, like the bone marrow. This year, it is estimated that there will be another 44,270 cases of leukemia diagnosed and about 21,700 deaths caused by it. That’s too many. One is too many, but these figures are way, way down from what they were only a few years ago. There was a time when a diagnosis of leukemia was a certain death sentence; but that is no longer the case, and the numbers are improving every year.
The bone marrow in people who have the disease produces abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells are the leukemia cells. In the beginning, they function and behave almost normally, but eventually they start to crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. When this happens, the blood can’t do its job, which is carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
There are four basic types of leukemia:
1. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: It is responsible for about 7,000 new cases of leukemia each year. People diagnosed with the disease are usually over the age 55, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia almost never affects children.
2. Chronic myeloid leukemia: It is responsible for about 4,400 new cases each year. Adults are most often diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.
3. Acute lymphocytic leukemia: It is responsible for about 3,800 new cases each year. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of leukemia in young children, but it can also affect adults.
4. Acute myeloid leukemia: It is responsible for about 10,600 new cases each year. Acute myeloid leukemia occurs in both adults and children at about the same rate.