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What is leukemia?

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Quick Answer

Leukemia refers to blood cell cancer, according to WebMD. It originates in the bone marrow, and it can spread to other body parts such as lymph nodes, causing pain and swelling. Leukemia causes the formation of abnormal white blood cells called leukemia cells, which leads to conditions such as anemia.

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What is leukemia?
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Full Answer

Leukemia can be grouped into acute or chronic and lymphocytic or myelogenous, depending on its growth rate and the type of white blood cells it attacks, notes WebMD. Acute leukemia worsens quickly and causes quick symptoms, unlike chronic leukemia, which worsens slowly and takes a longer time to cause symptoms. Lymphocytic leukemia attacks lymphocytes, while myelogenous leukemia targets cells that form platelets, granulocytes and red blood cells.

Although the cause of leukemia is unclear, the risk factors may include exposure to excessive radiation and harmful chemicals such as benzene, as stated by WebMD. The common symptoms of leukemia include swollen glands in the neck, groin and underarm, gum or rectal bleeding, and excessive bleeding during menstruation. Leukemia patients may also experience frequent fevers, unreasonable loss of appetite, bone pain and swelling.

The treatment of leukemia involves destroying the leukemia cells to allow the bone marrow form normal cells, says WebMD. However, the method of treatment depends on the type of leukemia, the age of the patient, the stage of the disorder and the health condition of the patient.

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