Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that involves the overproduction of white blood cells. Learn about the different types of leukemia: Acute Lymphocytic, Acute Myelogenous, Chronic Lymphatic and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.
What Is Leukemia & Where Is It Found?
I'm going to guess that most of you watching this video are sitting down in a chair. Sitting is a pretty basic part of everyday life, but you wouldn't be able to stay upright in your seat if it wasn't for your skeletal system. Without your bony skeleton, your body would have no structure and you would be a blob of tissues that slides off the side of your chair and onto the ground.
Yet bones are not only a means of support. Inside your bones, there's a soft, spongy tissue called your bone marrow, which is the site for blood cell production. Your bone marrow makes three types of cells: red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body; white blood cells, which protect the body from infection and disease; and platelets, which are actually fragments of cells that are important for blood clotting. The bone marrow works very efficiently in most people, producing just enough cells to meet the body's needs.
However, some people develop leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the bone marrow produces many abnormal white blood cells. Leukemia is a fairly easy term to recall if you remember that 'leuk' refers to white cells and 'emia' refers to a condition or having excessive substances in the blood. Therefore, 'leukemia' literally means 'excessive white cells.' The overabundance of white cells crowds out the red blood cells and platelets, and their numbers diminish.
So if we are considering where in the body leukemia starts, we would say that it starts in the bone marrow, but it doesn't necessarily stay in the bone marrow. This is because the abnormal cells can be transported to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes, brain, and spinal cord, as well as other organs and tissues.
Naming of Leukemia
There are different types of leukemia. They are labeled or named according to how fast they develop. Some types of leukemia are labeled 'acute,' meaning there is a rapid worsening. With acute leukemia we see the white blood cell count multiplying quickly and symptoms worsening over a short period of time, possibly in a matter of days. Leukemia can also be labeled as 'chronic.' With chronic leukemia, we see a slow progression of the condition, with development happening over a period of months or years.
Besides acute and chronic, leukemia is also labeled by which cells are overproduced. There are two young cells of the bone marrow that we consider when looking at the different types of leukemia: lymphoid and myeloid.
So we see that types of leukemia can be classified as acute or chronic. But they can also be classified as 'lymphocytic' if the leukemia starts in the lymphoid cells or 'myelogenous' if the disorder starts in the myeloid cells.
Main Types of Leukemia
With these variables, we can come up with a simple graph that allows us to piece together the four main types of leukemia. We see here that a person could develop Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common type of leukemia in children. So to help jog your memory, you might want to think of ALL as the cancer that 'Affects Little Lambs.'
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is a different type of leukemia. It is more common in adults of both sexes. To help remember AML you might want to think of the letters standing for 'Adult Men & Ladies.'
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is rare in children and often develops in adults who are well into their 60s. You can remember that CLL is rare in children by thinking of it as the 'Child-Less Leukemia.'
The last of the main types of leukemia to consider is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). This is another form of leukemia that affects older individuals, but the notable feature that distinguishes CML from the other types is a gene mutation in the bone marrow cells called the Philadelphia Chromosome. Since Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love and leukemia is not a loving disease, you can remember the relationship between CML and the Philadelphia chromosome as 'Cancel My Love for Philadelphia.'
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow in which the bone marrow produces many abnormal white blood cells.
There are different types of leukemia that are labeled or named according to how fast they develop and which cells are overproduced. Therefore, leukemia is labeled as being 'acute' if there is a rapid worsening of signs and symptoms or 'chronic' if there is a slow progression of the condition. Leukemia is also classified as 'lymphocytic' if the leukemia starts in the lymphoid cells or 'myelogenous' if the disorder starts in the myeloid cells.
There are four main types of leukemia. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia in children. So you might want to remember that 'ALL Affects Little Lambs.'
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) is more common in adults of both sexes. So you might want to remember that AML stands for 'Adult Men & Ladies.'
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is rare in children. You can remember CLL as the 'Child-Less Leukemia.'
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) affects older individuals. It is distinguished from the other types of cancer by the gene mutation called the Philadelphia Chromosome. Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, but you can remember the relationship between CML and the Philadelphia chromosome as 'Cancel My Love for Philadelphia.'
Finishing this lesson could provide you with the knowledge required to:
- Recite the definition of leukemia
- Evaluate the correlation between leukemia and excessive white blood cells
- Identify the way in which leukemia is labeled
- Name the three types of cells produced by bone marrow
- List the four main types of leukemia and write down tips for remembering them