Leukemia Health Center

Leukemia broadly defines a number of different cancers that originate in the bone marrow and blood cell lines, and typically produces an abnormal increase in the number of white blood cells in the body. Leukemias are subdivided into whether they are acute (occur rapidly) or chronic (develop over many years) and then further subdivided into what type of blood cell they start from, lymphocytic (usually from white blood cells that fight infection, like B-cells) or myelogenous (arising from cells in the bone marrow that eventually produce red blood cells). These categories make up the four most common types of leukemia:

  • Acute Lymphoblastic (ALL): Affects adults over age 65 (50% survival); also the most common form of leukemia in children (85% survival)
  • Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL): Affects mostly men over age 55 (75% survival)
  • Acute Myelogenous (AML): Affects mostly adult men (40% survival)
  • Chronic Myelogenous (CML): Affects mainly adults (90% survival)

Each of these general forms of leukemia is further subdivided into the type of cell that is affected, and treatments differ based on what the root cause is. There are also other types of leukemia that do not generally fit into any of these categories, such as Hairy cell leukemia, Adult T-cell leukemia, and T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer.

Review Date: 
April 17, 2012
Last Updated:
August 22, 2014