Leukemia occurs when cancer forms in blood cells located in bone marrow, the center of the bone where blood cells are produced. Blood cells in the body die naturally and new cells are formed in the bone marrow to replenish lost cells.
There are three types of blood cells created in the bone marrow:
Normally, blood cells are produced as the body needs them. When leukemia develops, the body produces large numbers of abnormal cells. When leukemia cells collect in the blood stream over time they outnumber normal bloods cells making it difficult for healthy cells to play their role. Leukemia can progress slowly (chronic leukemia) or rapidly (acute leukemia). It is the most common cancer in children.
The four main types of leukemia are:
Leukemia symptoms vary depending on the type of leukemia and the number of leukemia cells collecting in various parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, brain and spine. Some common symptoms may include:
If you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.
You are at a greater risk for leukemia risk if you:
The causes of leukemia are unknown. You can lower your risk for leukemia by not smoking and by reducing your exposure to radiation, chemotherapy and chemicals often found in the work environment.
MemorialCare is proud to provide the highest quality, comprehensive cancer care for adults and children of all ages. Our cancer centers are devoted to improving the lives of residents in Los Angeles County and Orange County, California and beyond.
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