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Leukemia

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on December 21, 2021.

Leukemia is the 10th-most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. But leukemia isn’t just one disease—many types of leukemia originate in different parts of the blood stream and affect different types of blood cells. Also, some leukemias are regarded as acute, meaning they may require aggressive treatments. Others are considered chronic, which means they are slow to develop and may require a less aggressive treatment plan.

No leukemia patient is the same. Get personalized treatment.

Considering the complexities of leukemia, it is important to consult with an experienced team of doctors and clinicians trained to accurately diagnose the disease and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our medical oncologists, hematologist-oncologists and other experts have years of experience delivering the standard-of-care and precision cancer treatments available to treat leukemia. Our whole-person care model is also designed to support patients throughout their treatment journey, offering supportive care services to help them manage side effects, such as pain, fatigue and weight loss, and maintain their quality of life.

This overview will cover the basic facts about leukemia, including:

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of leukemia and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or if you’re interested in a second opinion for your leukemia diagnosis and treatment plan, call us or chat online with a member of our team.

What causes leukemia?

Who gets leukemia?

In the United States, an estimated 61,090 Americans will be diagnosed with leukemia in 2021, according to the American Cancer Society. Leukemia is diagnosed more often in men than in women. Although people of any age can develop the disease, it is common in adults over 65 years old.

Stephen Hook

Stephen H.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

"There is so much more to the experience of CTCA than just the treatment. Some people have asked me why I travel for treatment, why I don’t just go somewhere local. Doesn’t it make life complicated? No, it doesn’t. CTCA takes the worry away. Scheduling, appointments, all of these details are taken care of. My response when people ask me about the inconvenience of traveling for treatment is that all I need to do is get there and get myself home. CTCA takes care of everything else."

MORE ABOUT STEPHEN

More About STEPHEN

Types of leukemia

Leukemia is categorized by the type of white blood cells affected and by how quickly the disease grows.

Types of leukemia include:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, affects the blood and bone marrow, and progresses rapidly.
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, affects the blood and bone marrow, and progresses rapidly.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) typically grows slowly, beginning in the lymphocytes of the bone marrow and then spreading to the blood.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia, begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and then spreads to the blood.
  • Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is rare and progresses slowly, developing when bone marrow makes too many B cells.
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are related diseases that develop when the bone marrow produces too few functioning red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets, or any combination of the three.

Learn more about leukemia types

Symptoms of leukemia

Diagnosing leukemia

Diagnosing leukemia generally involves examining cells from the blood and bone marrow. Diagnostic tests for leukemia often include:

Learn more about diagnosing leukemia

Leukemia treatment options

CTCA approach to helping you maintain your quality of life

At CTCA, we treat leukemia with standard-of-care and evidence-based treatments and technology, while also helping patients maintain their quality of life with an integrative, whole-person approach to care.

The symptoms of leukemia, such as fatigue, loss of appetite and bone or joint pain, and the side effects of treatment may require supportive care to help you maintain your strength and quality of life. At CTCA, a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts will work together t treat the disease while also offering a variety of supportive care therapies to help you manage your side effects, so you can feel better while getting better.

Because your care team works all under one roof, you have access to a team of physicians, practitioners and support staff who can tailor treatments and supportive therapies to your specific needs, in real time, collaborating on any adjustments needed to your care plan

Supportive care

Supportive care therapies that may be recommended to help patients with leukemia stay strong and maintain their quality of life include:

nutrition

​Nutritional support

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian.

mind_body

Behavioral health

​Our behavioral health support program is designed to support you and your caregivers before, during and after cancer treatment.

accupuncture

​Pain management

Pain management is a branch of medicine focused on reducing pain and improving quality of life through an integrative approach to care.

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