What Types of Leukemia Are Common in Adults?

Javier Larrea/age fotostock/Getty Images

Types of leukemia that are common in adults include chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocyctic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, according to MedicineNet. Hairy cell leukemia is a type of the disease that strikes adults almost exclusively, according to WebMD.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a slow-growing leukemia that usually affects people over age 55, states MedicineNet. Like hairy cell leukemia, it almost never strikes children. It originates in the lymphoid cells, which give rise to different kinds of white blood cells, including B and T cells, according to MedicineNet.

Chronic myeloid leukemia is a disease that arises from the myeloid cells, which give rise to not only white blood cells but red blood cells and platelets, explains MedicineNet. It also grows slowly in its early stages. Acute myeloid leukemia is a fast-growing leukemia that attacks the myeloid cells. Adults and children are subject to this type of leukemia.

Hairy cell leukemia is a rare leukemia that gets its name because the white blood cells appear hairy when studied in the lab, says WebMD. This type of leukemia is considered chronic, which means it is a long-term disease that grows very slowly and may not progress. Indeed, it is possible for someone who has hairy cell leukemia to live a normal life span if she is under medical care.

Risk factors for leukemia include treatment for prior cancers, certain genetic disorders, some blood disorders, exposure to high levels of radiation and smoking, according to Mayo Clinic. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person may develop the disease, and many people with leukemia do not have any of the risk factors. Treatment for all types of leukemia involves chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplants.