Leukemia refers to cancers of the white blood cells and normal white blood cells also known as leukocytes play a central role in fighting some of the infections. They have a very short life span and are continuously replenished in the bone marrow. The bone marrow creates some abnormal white blood cells that do not mature properly, cannot fight infection effectively and do not die like normal cells. The effects of leukemia on the body includes frequent infections from a lack of healthy white blood cells, anemia caused from a lack of healthy red blood cells, easy bruising and bleeding because of inadequate platelets, etc. Some of the risk factors for developing leukemia as an adult are being male, being white, having received chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the past, past exposure to high doses of radiation from other sources, past exposure to the high levels of solvents like benzene, having certain genetic disorders such as down syndrome, having myelodysplastic syndrome which is a type of bone marrow disorder, etc. There are mainly four types of leukemia that occur in adults are:
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Lymphoblast fails to mature and instead reproduce rapidly taking over the bone marrow.
Acute myeloid leukemia: It occurs when myeloid stem cells become abnormal myeloblasts that do not mature into healthy white blood cells.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Abnormal B cells are produced and it is the most common type of chronic leukemia in adults.
Chronic myeloid leukemia: A genetic mutation which is also known as the philadelphia chromosome causes production of excessive numbers of myeloid cells.