MemorialCare Cancer Institute at:
Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at:
LeukemiaLeukemia 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:
SymptomsLeukemia 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.
Causes & PreventionThe 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.
Risk FactorsYou are at a greater risk for leukemia risk if you:
DiagnosisAfter a physical exam, blood tests are taken for analysis. Lab results indicating the blood count of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are provided to your physician. Based on the lab results, a biopsy may be taken to collect tissue from the bone marrow so that a pathologist can examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if leukemia cells are present.
StagingIf cancer is diagnosed and before treatment begins, additional tests are performed to determine the stage of the cancer and to see if it has spread to other parts of the body.
TreatmentsMemorialCare’s experienced team of oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons conduct roundtable discussions (tumor boards) of newly diagnosed patients to make recommendations for the best course of treatment.