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Leukemia is a malignant disease of the bone marrow and blood It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of blood cells The term leukemia has a Latin derivation Leuko means white and heme is blood Therefore the word leukemia literally means white blood The common types of leukemia are divided into four major categories myelogenous and lymphocytic which can then be divided into acute or chronic Thus the four major types of leukemia are acute or chronic myelogenous leukemia and acute or chronic lymphocytic leukemia Acute leukemia involves the most primitive types of leukemia cells It is a rapidly progressing disease that results in the accumulation of immature cells in the marrow and blood that do not function In most cases the marrow can no longer produce enough normal red and white blood cells and platelets This class of cancer leads to an overproduction of blood cells that have similar characteristics which mean that they are clones Cloned cells share two common features that lead to the symptoms of leukemia The first is that the cells divide without control and fail to respond to the signals that tell them to stop The second is that these cells have a longer life than normal cells and gradually accumulate in the bone marrow wwwleukemiaorgThis uncontrolled production of long lived cells leads to the replacement of the normal cells in the bone marrow with leukemic clones Since the space is limited in the marrow the normal cells are crowded out by these clones wwwmedscom All the normal blood-forming elements are eventually affected if the leukemia goes unchecked This means that the white cells platelets and red blood cells are all eventually depleted The lower number of normal white blood cells makes leukemic patients more vulnerable to infection The depletion of normal platelets interferes with the patients clotting ability and makes the patient more susceptible to abnormal bleeding and bruising Anemia is caused by the decreased production of normal
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