Leukemia overview

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Overview

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AML
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Pathophysiology

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Differentiating Leukemia from other Diseases

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Leukemia (Greek leukos, “white”; haima, “blood”) is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow and is characterized by an abnormal proliferation (production by multiplication) of blood cells, usually white blood cells (leukocytes). It is part of the broad group of diseases called hematological neoplasms.

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

Leukemia is a very serious disease which can have many complications. Complications can come from the disease itself and the treatments. Acute leukemia has a much quicker and more dramatic onset, but can sometimes be cured. Chronic Leukiemia has a slower onset and can often be put off for years. However, chronic leukemia is very rarely cured.

Diagnosis

Laboratory Findings

The lab does a complete blood count to check the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Leukemia causes a very high level of white blood cells. It may also cause low levels of platelets and hemoglobin, which is found inside red blood cells

Chest X Ray

An x-ray can show swollen lymph nodes or other signs of disease in your chest.

Other Diagnostic Studies

The lab looks at the chromosomes of cells from samples of blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. If abnormal chromosomes are found, the test can show what type of leukemia you have. For example, people with CML have an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome.

References


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