Leukaemia is cancer (a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body) of the white blood cells. Primitive white blood cells are formed in the bone marrow then gradually change into many specialised different types of cell, and patients can get one of many types of leukaemia. White blood cells “leucocytes” are divided into two main groups, cells to do with the lymphatic system “lymphocyte” and cells to do with the bone marrow “myelocytes”. Cancer in these can cause lymphocytic (or lymphatic) leukaemia and myeloid leukaemia. In either case the onset can be sudden “acute” or gradual “chronic”. These are the main 4 types of leukemia, and of course there are few other types.
Under the microscope leukaemia white blood cells look different to the normal white cells.
Types of Leukaemia
- Hairy Cell Leukaemia – rare form occurring with males over 40
- Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – cancer of white blood cells occurring in elderly but also with children and young adults
- Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia – slow progressive form occurring in middle-aged/elderly people
- Acute Lymphatic Leukaemia – cancer of white blood cells commonly occurring in childhood
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia – slow progressive form cancer in white blood cells occurring in the elderly
- Acute Erythroid Leukaemia – excessive formation of abnormal red blood cells