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What is Leukaemia? – A Full Guide At Sundas Foundation

What is Leukaemia?

cancer child

What is Leukaemia

What is Leukaemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow and is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection and impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.

What is Leukaemia: Leukaemia can be either acute or chronic. Chronic leukaemia progresses more slowly than acute leukaemia, which requires immediate treatment. Leukaemia is also classified as lymphocytic or myelogenous. Lymphocytic leukaemia refers to abnormal cell growth in the marrow cells that become lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays a role in the immune system. In myelogenous leukaemia, abnormal cell growth occurs in the marrow cells that mature into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. There are four broad classifications of leukaemia:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL)
  • Acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML)

What is Leukaemia: Leukaemia occurs in both adults and children. ALL is the most common form ofchildhood leukaemia, and AML is the second most common. Decades of research have led to vastly improved outcomes for children diagnosed with ALL. The two most common adult leukaemia are AML and CLL.

Am I at Risk?

Although experts are uncertain about the causes of leukaemia, they have identified several risk factors that include the following:

  • Exposure to high levels of radiation
  • Repeated exposure to certain chemicals (for example, benzene)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Down Syndrome
  • A strong family history of leukaemia

Symptoms vary depending on the type and stage of leukaemia, but they can include the following:

  • Fever, chills, night sweats and other flu-like symptoms
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Bone pain
  • Paleness
  • Pinhead-size red spots on the skin
  • Weight loss

What is Leukaemia How Is Leukaemia Treated?

Your doctor will conduct a complete blood count (CBC) to determine if you have leukaemia. This test will reveal if you have leukaemic cells, or abnormal levels of white blood cells; both are signs of leukaemia. Abnormally low red blood cell or platelet counts can also indicate leukaemia. If you test positive for leukaemia, your doctor will perform a biopsy of your bone marrow to determine which type you have.

Treatment depends on your age, general health, and type of leukaemia. You might receive a combination of treatments that could include chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation. Patients with acute leukaemia often undergo chemotherapy because this type of treatment targets fast-dividing cells. Many acute leukaemia patients have responded successfully to treatment. On the other hand, because the cells divide more slowly in chronic leukaemia, it is better treated with targeted therapies that attack slowly dividing cells as opposed to traditional chemotherapy that targets rapidly dividing cells.

For some patients, participating in a clinical trial provides access to experimental therapies. If you are diagnosed with leukemia, talk with your doctor about whether joining a clinical trial is right for you.

Is Leukaemia Preventable?

Because the cause of leukaemia remains unknown, there is no certain way to prevent it. However, avoiding exposure to solvents, such as benzene and toluene, and unnecessary exposure to x-rays is generally good practice. If you think you may be exhibiting signs of leukaemia, being aware of the risk factors and symptoms and talking with your doctor are critical to early diagnosis and treatment. It is especially important for people who have a family history of leukaemia to be aware of symptoms and share their family medical history with their doctors.

Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia: A Patient’s Journey

Where Can I Find More Information?

If you find that you are interested in learning more about blood diseases and disorders, here are a few other resources that may be of some help:

Results of Clinical Studies Published in Blood

Search Blood, the official journal of ASH, for the results of the latest blood research. While recent articles generally require a subscriber login, patients interested in viewing an access-controlled article in Blood may obtain a copy by e-mailing a request to the Blood Publishing Office.

Patient Groups

A list of Web links to patient groups and other organizations that provide information.

Sundas Foundation

What is Blood Cancer? – A Full Guide At Sundas Foundation




What is Blood Cancer?

What is Blood Cancer?

There are three main groups of blood cancer: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma

What is Blood Cancer? Blood cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system.

Unfortunately, blood cancer affects a large number of people. Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer. That’s 70 people a day, 25,000 people a year.

There are three main groups of blood cancer: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Some types are more common than others:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer in the UK
  • Leukaemia is the eleventh most common cancer in the UK
  • Other types of blood cancer – such as myeloma – are less common.

Find out more about types of blood cancer and their treatments:

  • Leukaemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
  • Treatments for blood cancer


What is Blood Cancer?

Leukaemia affects your white blood cells. These are an important, infection-fighting part of your immune system, made in your bone marrow.

If you have leukaemia, you produce an abnormal number of immature white blood cells which ‘clog up’ your bone marrow and stop it making other blood cells vital for a balanced immune system and healthy blood.

Acute leukaemia comes on suddenly, progresses quickly and needs to be treated urgently. Chronic leukaemia develops more slowly, over months or years.

There are four main types of leukaemia:

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). It affects around 2,600 adults a year in the UK.  It’s most common in people over 65, although people of any age can get it.
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukaemia in children. ALL affects around 650 people a year in the UK. About half the cases are in adults and half in children.
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). It’s also quite a rare condition: only about 700 people every year are affected.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Doctors diagnose just over 3,200 people with CLL a year in the UK. It’s much more common to get it if you’re over 60 and is very rare in people under 40.

Other types of leukaemia include:

  • acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL)
  • hairy cell leukaemia (HCL)
  • large granular lymphocytic leukaemia (LGL)
  • t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL)
  • chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML)


What is Blood Cancer?

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects your lymphatic system, an important part of your immune system which helps to protect your body from infection and disease.

If you have lymphoma it means you make too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Your lymphocytes also live longer than they should. This overload compromises your immune system.

Lymphoma can develop in many parts of your body, including your lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood, spleen and other organs.

The two main types of lymphoma are:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Most lymphomas are NHL – it’s the sixth most common cancer in the UK. Each year, around 12,000 people are diagnosed with it in the UK. It’s more common in older people – 1 in 6 (60%) people diagnosed with NHL are over 65.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (used to be called Hodgkin disease). This is less common, and makes up less than 1% of all cancers in the UK. Around 1,800 people a year are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma can develop at any age, but it’s most common in young adults and in older men and women.


What is Blood Cancer?

Myeloma (also called multiple myeloma) is a blood cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are found in your bone marrow and produce antibodies which help fight infection.

In myeloma, unusually large numbers of abnormal plasma cells gather in your bone marrow and stop it producing an important part of your immune system.

In the UK, just under 4,800 people are diagnosed with myeloma each year. The risk of myeloma increases as you get older – about 4 out of 10 (40%) of cases are in people aged over 75.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of blood disorders where a person’s bone marrow is not producing the correct amount and quality of blood cells. Red, white and platelet cells can be affected.

These problems lead to people with MDS feeling very tired, weak and bleeding or bruising more easily.  There are different levels of severity of MDS, it’s not a type of leukaemia but can sometimes lead to acute myeloid leukaemia. MDS is rare – about 4 in every 100,000 people get MDS.  It mainly affects older people, and is more common in people over 70 years old.

If you have low or intermediate risk MDS you may not need treatment straightaway, but regular blood transfusions and medication can help. Some people with more severe MDS can have chemotherapy and a small number of people may need to have a stem cell transplant

Treatments for blood cancer

When it comes to deciding on the best treatment, it all depends what type of blood cancer you have, how advanced and aggressive it is and your general health. Your doctor will suggest the most effective course of treatment for you.

Common treatments are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and, in some cases, a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

What is chemotherapy?

What is Blood Cancer

Chemotherapy involves taking drugs that destroy cancer cells, hopefully putting it into remission or significantly slowing down the progression of the disease.

There are many types of chemotherapy drugs and they work in different ways. Sometimes doctors will prescribe a single drug, but often they’ll recommend combining two or more because they often work better together. Chemotherapy can be used on its own, but it’s often combined with other treatments like radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is designed to attack cells that are growing and multiplying. That’s because cancer cells grow and multiply faster than healthy cells.

Some healthy cells can be caught in the crossfire, as they can also be growing and dividing quickly. This can cause side effects such as nausea, tiredness and hair loss.

If you’re getting ready for a stem cell, bone marrow or cord blood transplant, you’ll also need chemotherapy to suppress your immune system and stop it attacking your donor’s new ‘foreign’ cells. This is called conditioning therapy.

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy works by using high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.

For it to be effective, doctors need to give just the right amount of radiation, targeted at the right area of the body. That’s why you get radiotherapy in specialist centres where doctors, physicists and radiographers work together. They’ll normally use a machine called a ‘linear accelerator’ for the treatment.

Radiotherapy can treat some types of leukaemia and lymphoma. Doctors can also use it to prepare a patient for a stem cell, bone marrow or cord blood transplant as part of the conditioning therapy. A low dose of radiation will lower someone’s immune system, so they’re less likely to reject donor cells. The type of radiotherapy you might have before a stem cell transplant is called total body irradiation or TBI and this means it affects the whole body.

Radiotherapy can also damage normal cells, which can cause side effects. These vary greatly for each person; some experiencing mild symptoms such as tiredness while for others it can be more debilitating.  These side effects will normally have passed within a few weeks of the treatment finishing.

When radiotherapy finishes, most of your body’s healthy cells will continue to grow normally again. But radiotherapy can have long-term side effects.


Sundas Foundation

What is Haemophilia? – A Full Guide At Sundas Foundation

What is HAEMOPHILIA Haemophilia

What is Haemophilia

The word Haemophilia derives from two Greek words: haima, meaning blood, and philia, meaning affection.

Haemophilia is a hereditary condition. This means that it is passed on from mother to child at the time of conception.

The blood of a person with Haemophilia does not clot normally. He does not bleed more profusely or more quickly than other people; however, he bleeds for a longer time.


What is Haemophilia: Many people believe that Haemophiliacs bleed a lot from minor cuts. This is a myth. External wounds are usually not serious. Far more important is internal bleeding (haemorrhaging). These haemorrhages are in joints, especially knees, ankles and elbows; and into tissues and muscles. When bleeding occurs in a vital organ, especially the brain, a Haemophiliac’s life is in danger.

What are other names for Haemophilia A?

Haemophilia A is called by two other names:

  • Classical Haemophilia, because it is the most common of the factor deficiencies and
  • Factor VIII deficiency Haemophilia, because it is the lack of the factor 8 (written factor VIII) proteins in the blood that causes the clotting problem.

What are other names for Haemophilia B?

Haemophilia B also goes by two other names:

  • Christmas Disease, named after Steven Christmas, a Canadian who in 1952 was the first person to be diagnosed with this distinct form of Haemophilia and
  • Factor IX deficiency Haemophilia, because factor 9 (written factor IX) is the blood protein which is lacking and whose absence slows down the normal clotting process.

How common is Haemophilia?

What is Haemophilia: Both Haemophilia A and B are very rare disorders. Haemophilia A affects fewer than 1 in 10,000 people, or about 2500 Canadians. Haemophilia B is even less common, affecting approximately 1 in 50,000 people, or about 600 Canadians.

Haemophilia affects people of all races, colours and ethnic origins.

Who is affected by Haemophilia?

The most severe forms of Haemophilia affect almost only males. Females can be seriously affected only if the father is a Haemophiliac and the mother is a carrier, or in the case of X-inactivation when a woman’s normal X-chromosome is inactive in the production of factor VIII or IX. These cases are extremely rare. (See Heredity of Haemophilia.)

However, many women who are carriers have symptoms of mild Haemophilia. We are only now fully recognizing the importance of bleeding in carriers and the degree to which these symptoms affect a woman’s quality of life.

As Haemophilia is an hereditary disorder, people are affected at birth. This means that children can have Haemophilia. In fact, Haemophilia is often diagnosed in the first year of life.

How serious is Haemophilia?

Without proper treatment, Haemophilia is crippling and often fatal. With modern treatment, most people with Haemophilia can lead full, active lives.

Haemophilia is classified as severe, moderate or mild.



Severe Less than 1% of normal
Moderate 1 to 5% of normal
Mild 5 to 30% of normal

Severe Haemophiliacs with less than 1% of the normal level of factor VIII or IX in the blood have haemorrhages several times a month. The bleeding is often the result of a minor bump or twist. Sometimes, there is often no apparent cause for the bleeding.

Moderate Haemophiliacs bleed less often. Their haemorrhages are often the result of minor trauma, such as a sports injury.

Mild Haemophiliacs have even fewer haemorrhages. They may be aware of their bleeding problem only in the case of surgery, a tooth extraction or a serious injury. Women with mild Haemophilia may bleed more during menstruation (Periods).

Sundas Foundation