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The Lowdown on Leukemia

Cancer is the abnormal growth of body cells that causes you to get sick. Kidzworld takes a look at leukemia, which is one of the most common types of cancer in kids.

Leukemia - What is It?

Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells (also called leukocytes or WBCs). Usually white blood cells fight infection, but the WBCs in someone with leukemia don't work properly. Instead of protecting the body against disease, these abnormal white blood cells multiply out of control, overcrowd the bone marrow and flood the bloodstream. As the cancer grows, other blood cells like platelets (allow blood to clot) and red blood cells (carry oxygen in the blood to the body's tissues) also get crowded out by the WBCs, resulting in anemia (low numbers of healthy red blood cells), which makes you pale and feel tired, irritated, dizzy and lightheaded.

Leukemia - Types of Leukemia

Leukemia is classified into acute (rapidly developing) and chronic (slowly developing) forms. About 98% of childhood leukemias are acute. There are four major types of leukemia, depending on the white blood cells that are involved.
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Leukemia - Signs and Symptoms

  • Fevers, chills and other flu-like symptoms.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Easy bruising and bleeding.
  • Pain in the bones or joints.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sweating, especially at night.
  • Leukemia - Treatment

    Cancer is treated with chemotherapy (medication that's given through a vein or orally) and radiation therapy (powerful energy waves like x-rays). Leukemia patients may also have to get a bone marrow transplant to allow new, healthy blood cells to grow. After treatment begins, the goal is to get you into remission, which means there's no evidence of cancer in your blood or bone marrow. A complete remission that lasts five years after treatment often means you're cured.

    Leukemia - Did U Know?
  • Leukemia affects about 2,300 young peeps in the US each year.
  • The most common type of leukemia in children is Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. The good news is that almost all kids who get it are cured!
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