Leukemia: Definition and Basics Everyone Should Know

Leukemia: Definition and Basics Everyone Should Know

By definition, Leukemia is a kind of cancer that primarily affects the blood and bone marrow. To those who don’t know, the marrow is the tissue inside the bones where the entire blood production takes place. The bone marrow is also the one responsible for producing different kinds of blood cells.


In case of leukemia, the cancerous change begins inside the bone marrow, making it produce abnormal white blood cells in almost endless manner. If left uncontrolled, the white blood cells will overpopulate the entire marrow, making it unable to produce other blood-related cells. Since the produced white blood cells don’t attack disease-causing microorganisms, it nourishes and produces itself by attacking other cells in the patient’s body.

Leukemia: Definition and Basics Everyone Should Know

There are four main types of Leukemia, namely: Acute Lymphoblastic or Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukemia (CLL) and Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). All of these are known to start from a cancerous cell produced inside the bone marrow. Depending on where the leukemia had started, the patient could be experiencing either one of those.


Acute and Chronic Leukemia: What’s the Difference?

Acute Leukemia starts from underdeveloped myeloblast or lymphoblast cells. Unlike their normal cell counterparts, the underdeveloped ones don’t work and are known to be nonfunctional. If not treated, these cells will increase exponentially until they occupy most of the bone marrow. If this happens, the bone marrow will be unable to produce red blood cells and platelets as well as normal white blood cells.


Chronic Leukemia, on the other hand, contains little or no underdeveloped myeloblast or lymphoblast cells. Known to progress slower compared to acute leukemia, the chronic type produces normal white blood cells. The problem, however is that the produced white blood cells are also increasing exponentially until there is no more room for the bone marrow to produce other cells.


Lymphoblastic and Myeloid Leukemia

The Lymphoblastic or Lymphocytic Leukemia starts from the cancerous bone marrow cell that is responsible for producing lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. This cancerous cell does the production in rapid pace, therefore multiplying the number of abnormal lymphocytes faster.


Myeloid or Myelogenous Leukemia, on the other hand, begins from a cancerous bone marrow cell. Unlike in lymphoblastic type which is caused by a cancerous cell producing abnormal lymphocytes, the cancerous cell in myeloid type is either responsible for platelet or red blood cell production.