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Web Exclusive: An Excerpt from "Conquer Prostate Cancer"
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Integrative Medicine: Exercise Scores Against Anxiety
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Web Exclusive: Gaining Ground In Treating Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
June 15, 2010 – Kathy LaTour
Web Exclusive: Standing Up to Cancer
June 16, 2010 – Kathy LaTour
Web Exclusive: Find a Clinical Trial That's Right for You
June 16, 2010
More Therapies Needed for Childhood Cancers
June 14, 2010 – Bunmi Ishola
The Price of Parenthood
June 10, 2010 – Erik Ness
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What Is Metastatic Cancer?
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How Not to Buffer
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Buffer Zone
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Sex and Intimacy After Cancer
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The Genes That Bind
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What to Expect When You're Not Expecting—Yet
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ASCO Updates
June 07, 2010 – Staff Reports
Mirror Makeovers
June 07, 2010 – Kathy LaTour
A Lasting Effect on Breast Cancer Prevention
June 08, 2010 – Elizabeth Whittington
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June 08, 2010 – Elizabeth Whittington
Q & A: Prostate Cancer Screeing Guidelines
June 08, 2010 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Saying Goodbye to Georgy Girl and a Designing Woman
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The Us TOO International Summit, Symposium & Celebration
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A Health Care Victory for Cancer Patients
June 07, 2010 – Bunmi Ishola
The Rules
June 01, 2010 – Leslie Starsoneck
Pipeline
June 10, 2010 – Katy Human
Beginning to End
May 30, 2010 – Valerie Bosselman
Mixing It Up
June 01, 2010 – Don Vaughan
Can an Aspirin a Day Keep Breast Cancer Away?
May 30, 2010 – Charlotte Huff
Bad Block
June 01, 2010 – Bunmi Ishola
Letters From Our Readers
June 08, 2010
Message From the Editor
June 08, 2010 – Debu Tripathy, MD
The Treatment Option You May Be Missing
June 07, 2010 – Laura Beil
Progress That's Worth the Wait
June 05, 2010 – Karen Patterson
Living on the Edge: Some Patients with Metastatic Cancer Live Long and Well
June 04, 2010 – Kathy LaTour

Other Leukemias

Leukemia is more than just one disease. 

BY Karen Patterson
PUBLISHED June 06, 2010

The term “leukemia” refers to cancers in which the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells (leukocytes). These abnormal cells can crowd out healthy blood cells and interfere with their function.

About one in 78 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of leukemia during their lifetimes, and nearly a quarter million Americans have a history of the disease. 

Leukemias are labeled according to how quickly they progress. Chronic leukemias worsen slowly, and are often detected by routine blood tests before symptoms arise. By contrast, acute leukemias progress quickly.

Different forms of the disease are also named according to which type of white blood cell is affected, and each is evaluated and treated differently. Disease that affects lymphocytic cells is labeled “lymphocytic,” “lymphoid,” or “lymphoblastic,” whereas disease that affects myeloid cells is called “myeloid,” “myelogenous,” or “myeloblastic.” Hence, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a slow-developing cancer affecting lymphocytic white cells.

CLL is one of four common types of leukemia. The others are:

> acute lymphocyctic leukemia (ALL), a fast-growing cancer that accounts for more than 5,000 new cases of leukemia in the U.S. each year. ALL is the most common type of leukemia in young children, accounting for about three out of every four cases, although it also affects adults.

> chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a slow-developing leukemia that is diagnosed in about 5,000 Americans each year. CML mainly affects adults.

> acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing disease that accounts for more than 13,000 new cases each year and affects both adults and children. After ALL, AML accounts for most other cases of childhood leukemia.

A slew of rarer leukemias account for less than 6,000 new cases each year. One example is hairy cell leukemia, a chronic leukemia named for the microscopic, hairlike extensions on the outside of the cancer cell. Another is large granular lymphocyte leukemia (LGLL), a form of chronic leukemia. Yet another is chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), which affects primarily older adults. 

CMML and a similar childhood leukemia known as juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), which arises most often in infants and children under age six, have features of two other types of blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders. Also rare in children are acute hybrid leukemias, which mix features of ALL and AML.  

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