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Leukemia is a cancerous overgrowth of white blood cells in bone marrow or other tissues of the lymphatic system (lymph glands, spleen, liver). These excess cells collect and spill over into the bloodstream, eventually involving other tissues.

Common forms of leukemia include Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL; especially prevalent in children), Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and Acute Non-Lymphocytic Leukemia (ANLL). Acute leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children.

Leukemia starts in bone marrow and lymph tissue in early stages and eventually affects all body tissues.


Sex or Age most affected

  • Both sexes, but more common in males.
  • All ages. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia has a peak incidence between ages 2 and 5.

Signs & Symptons

  • Low fever.
  • Tiredness.
  • Anemia.
  • Increasing paleness.
  • General ill feeling.
  • Easy bruising and spontaneous bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums)
  • Enlarged spleen and abdominal pain.
  • Susceptibility to infection, especially pneumonia.
  • Mouth infections with ulcers and sores.
  • Headache and lethargy, if meninges (brain covering) are affected.


Unknown, but there are many suspected predisposing factors–especially viruses and radiation.

Risk Increases With

  • Family history of leukemia.
  • Excess exposure to X-rays.
  • Congenital disorders, especially Down’s syndrome.
  • Identical twins.
  • Exposure to benzenes and other toxic industrial chemicals.
  • Use of cytotoxic drugs.


Cannot be prevented. If you have a family history of leukemia, seek genetic counseling before starting a family.

Diagnstic Measures

  • Observation of symptoms.
  • History and exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory studies of blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (water from spine).

Possible Complications

  • Bleeding.
  • Death from Severe infections due to destruction of the body’s defenses against infection.

Probable Outcome

Treatment brings remission in 90% of patients and cure in 30% for some forms of leukemia – especially in children.


General Measures

  • Avoid ill persons and crowds to prevent dangerous exposure to infection especially during chemotherapy.
  • Rinse mouth often with a warm soda-bi-carb water solution to decrease mouth ulcers and prevent infection from stuck food debris. Use 1-tablespoon soda-bi-carb in 8 oz. water.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to prevent gum abrasion.


Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Blood transfusions.
  • Anticancer drugs.
  • Cortisone drugs.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Drugs to increase excretion of uric acid that may accumulate as a side effect of anticancer drugs.
  • Preventive radiation either to the brain or Radiation therapy to the affected part
  • Bone marrow transplant & now Stem cell transplant, in selected cases


No restrictions during remissions. Isolation and bed rest is usually necessary during active phases.


Drink extra fluids. Adults should drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid daily, and children should drink 4 to 6 glasses of fluid. During chemotherapy, eat and drink high-calorie foods and beverages, such as milkshakes.

Contact your Doctor

Your child has symptoms suspicious of leukemia. The following occurs during active stages or remissions:

  • Fever with chills
  • Constipation
  • Cough, sore throat
  • Abnormal bleeding – apply pressure and ice till you reach your doctor.