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Leukemia 

Acute Lymphocytic LeukemiaLeucemia Linfocítica Aguda

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

What is acute lymphocytic leukemia?

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.

Normally, the lymphocytes fight infection. But, in ALL, the cells are immature and overabundant. They crowd out other blood cells, and may collect in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph tissue.

Acute leukemia can grow quickly and requires treatment as soon as possible after it is found. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of patients.

ALL is more common in children than adults, with most children younger than 5 years of age when the cancer is found. According to the American Cancer Society, about 6,020 cases of ALL are expected in 2014. The average person has about a one in 750 chance of developing ALL.

What are the symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia?

The following are some of the most common symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding

  • Bruising

  • Fever

  • Infections

  • Persistent weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Aches in bones and joints

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Weight loss

  • Night sweats

  • Swelling in the abdomen

  • Trouble breathing

The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is acute lymphocytic leukemia diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute lymphocytic leukemia may include the following:

  • Blood tests and other evaluation procedures

  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

  • Spinal tap/lumbar puncture. A thin, hollow needle is placed in the lower back, in the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord) is removed and sent for testing to look for leukemia cells or to determine if there is an infection or other problem.

Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia

Specific treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • The type of ALL and other prognostic factors

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Stem cell transplant (from the peripheral blood or bone marrow)

  • Targeted therapy

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a rapidly growing cancer that starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood and other organs.

Learn More

Chronic Lymphocytic LeukemiaLeucemia Linfocítica Crónica

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

What is chronic lymphocytic leukemia?

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and organs of the lymph system.

Normally, most lymphocytes fight infection by making antibodies that attack harmful elements. But, in CLL, the cells are immature and overabundant. They crowd out other blood cells, and may collect in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph tissue. CLL is a slowly progressing disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 15,700 cases of CLL are expected to be diagnosed in 2013, and about 4,600 people will die of CLL.

What are the symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia?

Early in the disease, there may be no noticeable symptoms, and many cases are diagnosed on routine blood tests. The following are the most common symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent weakness or fatigue

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Enlarged spleen, which can cause loss of appetite

  • Enlarged liver

  • Fever

  • Night sweats

  • Weight loss

  • Frequent infections

  • Easy bruising or bleeding

The symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is chronic lymphocytic leukemia diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for chronic lymphocytic leukemia may include the following:

  • Blood tests and other evaluation procedures

  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

  • Spinal tap/lumbar puncture. A special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in the spinal canal and brain can then be measured. A small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection, leukemia cells in the CSF, or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. This test isn't usually needed for CLL unless your doctor suspects a problem in the brain or spinal cord.

Treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Specific treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Other traits of the disease, such as chromosome changes in the leukemia cells

  • Whether or not you are having symptoms

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Watchful waiting. Close monitoring of the disease and not treating it unless it begins to grow quickly or cause symptoms. 

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Monoclonal antibodies, such as Rituxan, Arzerra, or Campath, that provide targeted therapy

  • Treatment for complications, such as infection or anemia

  • Leukapheresis. A procedure to remove excess lymphocytes from the body.

  • Bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation

  • Splenectomy. Surgery to remove the spleen.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a slow-moving cancer that starts in the bone marrow, often spreading to the blood, lymph nodes and spleen.

Learn More

Acute Myelogenous LeukemiaLeucemia Mielógena Aguda

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

What is acute myelogenous leukemia?

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood usually in which too many early forms of white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.

Normally, bone marrow cells mature into several different types of blood cells. AML usually affects the young blood cells (called blasts) that normally develop into a type of white blood cell (called granulocytes). The main function of granulocytes is to destroy bacteria. The blasts, which do not mature and become too numerous, remain in the bone marrow and blood. Acute leukemia is a fast growing cancer that needs to be treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of AML patients.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 48,610 leukemia cases are expected in 2013. About 14,590 of these will be AML.

What are the symptoms of acute myelogenous leukemia?

The following are the most common symptoms of AML. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding

  • Bruising

  • Fever and recurring infections

  • Persistent weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Aches in bones and joints

  • Swollen gums, lymph nodes, liver, or spleen

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Night sweats

The symptoms of AML may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is acute myelogenous leukemia diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for AML may include the following:

  • Blood tests and other evaluation procedures

  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

  • Spinal tap/lumbar puncture. A special hollow needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there are leukemia cells in the CSF or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. This test is often not needed for AML. 

Treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia

Specific treatment for AML will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • The subtype of AML

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Chemotherapy or other drug therapies

  • Radiation therapy

  • Bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

Acute myelogenous leukemia is usually a rapidly growing cancer that starts in bone marrow and spreads to the blood and other organs.

Learn More

Chronic Myelogenous LeukemiaLeucemia Mielógena Crónica

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

What is chronic myelogenous leukemia?

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, build up in the bone marrow. CML is also called chronic myeloid leukemia.   

Normally, bone marrow cells mature into several different types of blood cells. CML affects the young blood cells called blasts that normally develop into a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. The main function of granulocytes is to destroy bacteria. The blasts do not mature, increase to large numbers, and remain in the bone marrow and blood.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia can occur over a period of months or years. A specific chromosome rearrangement is found in the cells of almost all patients with CML. Parts of chromosome #9 and chromosome #22 switch places, so that there is an exchange of genetic material between these 2 chromosomes. This rearrangement changes the position and functions of certain genes, which results in uncontrolled cell growth. The shortened chromosome #22 is often called the Philadelphia chromosome. Nearly all patients with CML have the Philadelphia chromosome in their cells. Other chromosome abnormalities can also be present.

CML occurs mainly in adults and is rare in children. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5,900 cases of CML are expected in the United States in 2013.

What are the symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia?

Many people do not have symptoms in the early phase of CML. Instead, the leukemia is found during routine blood tests. When people do have symptoms from CML, the following are the most common. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Night sweats

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Persistent weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Aches in bones and joints

  • Enlarged spleen

The symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is chronic myelogenous leukemia diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for chronic myelogenous leukemia may include:

  • Blood tests and other evaluation procedures

  • Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy. A procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

Treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia

Specific treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Targeted therapies, such as imatinib, dasatinib, or nilotinib

  • Chemotherapy

  • Biological therapy. This therapy uses the body's immune system to fight cancer.

  • Radiation therapy

  • Stem cell transplantation

  • Splenectomy. Surgery to remove the spleen.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a slow-moving cancer that starts in the bone marrow, often spreading to the blood, lymph nodes and spleen.

Learn More