Leukemia forms when cancerous cells develop in the blood or bone marrow. There are several types of leukemia:
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs when the body makes unhealthy white blood cells, making the body vulnerable to infection and bleeding. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia must be treated quickly to prevent it from worsening.
Acute myeloid leukemia develops when the bone marrow makes white blood cells that don’t fully develop and are not healthy. As an acute leukemia, this leukemia must also be treated quickly or it will worsen.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a slow-growing cancer in which white blood cells don’t mature correctly. These leukemia cells populate the blood and bone marrow, crowding out healthy blood cells and preventing the body from defending itself against infection adequately. Learn more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a slow-growing cancer thatoccurs when the body makes too many white blood cells. These abnormal white cells crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to infection, anemia, or bleeding.
Hairy cell leukemia is named for the hair-like projections that are seen on abnormal cells. Hairy cell leukemia is slow growing. It is usually diagnosed in older people, and some patients will never need treatment for the disease. Treatment will be started if blood counts drop or the spleen enlarges. Treatment is usually very effective.