Leukemia

Know the symptoms and types of leukemia, and your treatment options.

Leukemia is a category of cancers that affect the blood and bone marrow. Once our hematologic-oncology team has diagnosed your type of leukemia, they will walk you through your treatment options.

We have staff and resources to offer support and education from the moment of diagnosis through recovery.

Symptoms of leukemia

Different types of leukemia can have different symptoms. They often resemble signs of other less-serious illnesses. Talk to you doctor if you experience prolonged periods of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Night sweats
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Unexplained weight loss

Types of leukemia

Leukemia usually affects the white blood cells, but it can start in other types of blood cells. The disease can be acute (fast-growing) or chronic (slow-growing). There are many types and subtypes of leukemia, each classified by its growth rate and origin.

The main types of leukemia are:

  • Acute lymphocytic in adults (ALL): Also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), crowding out healthy blood cells that fight infection.
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): One of the more common forms of leukemia affecting adults, this disease causes a surge of abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells interfere with production of normal, healthy blood cells.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): In this disease, the body slowly begins producing a type of white blood cell called B lymphocytes (B cells) that eventually destroy bone marrow.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): This type of leukemia also is known as chronic myelogenous leukemia and chronic granulocytic leukemia (CGL). It causes rapid growth of cancerous white blood cells.
  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML): This type of cancer develops in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.

How we treat leukemia

After diagnosis, the cancer care team will discuss your options, including the benefits and side effects of each. Treatment will depend on the type of leukemia, its stage, and your medical history and priorities.

Your treatment may include one or more of the following:

We participate in a number of clinical trials to test new leukemia treatments. Talk with your doctor about whether you may qualify for a clinical trial.

Talk with our Cancer Nurse 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167

Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute