Leukemias affect blood cells and the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside the bones where blood cells are made. These cancers change the way blood cells behave and function.
You have three types of blood cells:
White blood cells fight infection as part of your immune system.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to your tissues and organs and carry carbon dioxide to your lungs so that you can expel it.
Platelets help blood clot when injured.
There are three major types of leukemia:
These cancers cause your bone marrow and lymphatic system to produce blood cells just as they should not. They all affect different types of white blood cells and work in different ways.
People with leukemia produce large amounts of white blood cells that cannot fight infections. Leukemia is divided into four types based on the type of white blood cells it affects and whether it grows rapidly (acute) or slowly (chronically).
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (All)
The disease starts with white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. People with ALL produce large numbers of lymphocytes that kill healthy white blood cells. Without treatment, everyone can progress quickly.
This is the most common type of cancer in childhood. Children 3 to 5 years old are more likely to get it, but adults over 75 can also get ALL.
You are more likely to get it if:
- Have a sibling with ALL
- In the past, another type of cancer was treated with chemotherapy or radiation
- It has been close to many rays
- Have Down Syndrome or another genetic disorder
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML):
It starts with myeloid cells, which normally turn into white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. AML reduces the number of healthy blood cells in all three types. This form of leukemia grows rapidly
It is a cancer of the lymphatic system. This network of vessels includes the lymph nodes, spleen and thymus gland. These vessels store and carry white blood cells to help the body fight infections.
Lymphoma begins in white blood cells called lymphocytes. There are two main types of lymphoma:
Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma:
It starts in immune cells called B lymphocytes or B cells. These cells make proteins called antibodies that fight germs. People with Hodgkin’s lymphoma have large lymphocytes called Reed-Sternberg cells in their lymph nodes.
It starts in B cells or another type of immune cell called a T cell. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Both types are divided into several subgroups. Subtypes are based on where the cancer started in the body and how it behaves.
People with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop lymphoma. Infection with Epstein-Barr virus, HIV or H. pylori also increases your chances.
Lymphoma is most often diagnosed in people aged 15 to 35 and over 50.
It is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies.
Myeloma cells spread through the bone marrow. They can damage your bones and kill healthy blood cells. These cells also produce antibodies that cannot fight infection.
This cancer is often called multiple myeloma because it is found in many parts of your bone marrow.
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