Types of Leukemia and Treatment Options
Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
Because there are many forms of leukemia, prompt attention and an effective diagnosis are important in determining the most successful route of treatment.
For the most part, leukemia is classified based on how quickly the disease develops:
- Chronic leukemia means the disease progresses slowly and is difficult to diagnose early.
- Acute leukemia means the number of leukemia cells increases rapidly, contributing to earlier diagnoses.
Types of Leukemia
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. In AML, the myeloid stem cells usually develop into a type of immature white blood cell called myeloblasts (or myeloid blasts). The myeloblasts in AML are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the second-most common type of leukemia in adults. It often occurs during or after middle age; it rarely occurs in children. In CLL, too many blood stem cells develop into abnormal lymphocytes and do not become healthy white blood cells.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML or chronic granulocytic leukemia) is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease that usually occurs during or after middle age, and rarely occurs in children. In CML, too many blood stem cells develop into a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. These granulocytes are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells.
Acute Lymphocytic (Lymphoblastic) Leukemia
Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer in which too many stem cells develop into lymphoblasts or lymphocytes. These cells may also be called leukemic cells. These leukemic cells are not able to fight infection very well.
Hairy Cell Leukemia
Hairy cell leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This rare type of leukemia gets worse slowly or does not get worse at all. The disease is called hairy cell leukemia because the leukemia cells look “hairy” when viewed under a microscope.
Treatments for Leukemia
At the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers, we offer outpatient treatments for all types of leukemia, including:
- Stem cell transplant (SCT)/bone marrow transplant (BMT)
- Biologic therapies
- Targeted therapies
- Clinical trials
For more information on Leukemia, visit our Blood Cancers section.