Leukemia is a type of cancer that begins in the blood cells. Blood cells grow and mature in the bone marrow before they are pushed out into circulation. When someone has leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that are pushed out into circulation. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. At first, leukemia cells function almost normally. Overtime, they may crowd out other cells in the circulation, making it hard for the normal cell to do their job.

There are different types of leukemia. Sometimes it is a chronic, or slow growing disease, and other times it is acute, or fast growing. It can also affect different types of white blood cells such as lymphoid cells or myeloid cells.

Risk factors related to leukemia:

  • High-levels of radiation exposure
  • Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde
  • Chemotherapy used to treat other cancers can sometimes result in leukemia
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Human T-cell leukemia virus 1(HTLV1)
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Bleeding and bruising easily
  • Pain in bone or joints
  • Pain or discomfort in abdomen
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss