Leukemia, also known as the cancer of the blood, is one of the most difficult forms of cancer. It tends to occur more often among adults above the age of 55 but it is also encountered quite often among children under the age of 15. Below there are some key facts about the disease.
Two types of leukemia
Scientists have identified two major types of leukemia. Acute leukemia forms in underdeveloped cells called blasts and become noticeable at a fast pace, with immediate treatment being needed. Chronic leukemia develops over time, and years can pass before it is spotted.
Identified by cells
The exact type of leukemia experience by a patent can be identified by analyzing specific cells. Leukemia tied to the immune system is classified as acute lymphocytic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia are tied to myeloid cells.
Children are more likely to develop acute lymphocytic leukemia while adults tend to develop acute myelogenous leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, especially in the case of patients above the age of 65 or older. Researchers are puzzled by the existence of different forms among different age groups.
Leukemia cells are resilient
In comparison to regular blood cells, leukemia cells will not die when they are old or become damaged, a trait that allows them to accumulate and become more numerous in comparison to regular blood cells. They can also reach other organs, including the spleen and the brain.
Most patients survive
More than 90% of young patients diagnosed with leukemia will survive during the treatment and after the treatment ends. High rates are also encountered among adults, as more than 60% of patients remain alive after five years since the treatment ended, a number that has increased dramatically since the 1960s.
As science continues to advance, new treatments could help even more patients in the future.