Types of Leukemia
Lab tests help the doctor find out the type of leukemia that you have. For each type of leukemia, the treatment plan is different.
Acute and Chronic Leukemias
Leukemias are named for how quickly the disease develops and gets worse:
- Acute: Acute leukemia usually develops quickly. The number of leukemia cells increases rapidly, and these abnormal cells don’t do the work of normal white blood cells. A bone marrow test may show a high level of leukemia cells and low levels of normal blood cells. People with acute leukemia may feel very tired, bruise easily, and get infections often.
- Chronic: Chronic leukemia usually develops slowly. The leukemia cells work almost as well as normal white blood cells. People may not feel sick at first, and the first sign of illness may be abnormal results on a routine blood test. For example, a blood test may show a high level of leukemia cells. If not treated, the leukemia cells may later crowd out normal blood cells.
Myeloid and Lymphoid Leukemias
Leukemias are also named for the type of white blood cell that is affected:
- Myeloid: Leukemia that starts in myeloid cells is called myeloid, myelogenous, or myeloblastic leukemia.
- Lymphoid: Leukemia that starts in lymphoid cells is called lymphoid, lymphoblastic, or lymphocytic leukemia. Lymphoid leukemia cells may collect in the lymph nodes, which become swollen.
Four Most Common Types of Leukemia
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) affects myeloid cells and grows quickly. Leukemic blast cells collect in the bone marrow and blood.
About 15,000 Americans will be diagnosed with AML in 2013. Most (about 8,000) will be 65 or older, and about 870 children and teens will get this disease.
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) affects lymphoid cells and grows quickly. Leukemic blast cells usually collect in the bone marrow and blood.
More than 6,000 Americans will be diagnosed with ALL in 2013. Most (more than 3,600) will be children and teens.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) affects myeloid cells and usually grows slowly at first. Blood tests show an increase in the number of white blood cells. The abnormal blood cells work okay. There may be a small number of leukemic blast cells in the bone marrow.
About 6,000 Americans will be diagnosed with CML in 2013. Almost half (about 2,900) will be 65 or older, and only about 170 children and teens will get this disease.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) affects lymphoid cells and usually grows slowly. Blood tests show an increase in the number of white blood cells. The abnormal cells work almost as well as the normal white blood cells.
About 16,000 Americans will be diagnosed with CLL in 2013. Most (about 10,700) will be 65 or older. This disease almost never affects children or teens.
- Other, less common types of leukemia will account for more than 6,000 new cases in 2013