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Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. It starts in the bone marrow where blood cells develop. As leukemia cells grow and multiply, they take over the blood and push out normal blood cells. There are five main types of leukemia: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and hairy cell leukemia (HCL).
Find a Doctor online or call 888.670.6341 to make an appointment with a Dignity Health oncologist with expertise in treating blood cancer, including leukemia, in Arizona. We provide cancer care at our Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Chandler Regional Medical Center and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center campuses.
You can have leukemia for a long time, sometimes years, before you have symptoms. When symptoms develop, they are due to changes in blood cell counts. Here’s what can happen when leukemia starts affecting the different types of blood cells:
Other general signs and symptoms of leukemia include night sweats, headaches, joint and bone pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, and swollen or bleeding gums.
Genetic (DNA) defects can trigger abnormal blood cell growth and leukemia. A noninherited genetic defect called the Philadelphia chromosome causes chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, health experts do not fully understand why some people get this and other defects that cause leukemia. Anyone can get leukemia, but certain things increase your risk, including:
At Dignity Health, we treat the whole person with a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan. Your care team will include a range of board-certified doctors, such as radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and surgeons. Additional cancer care specialists, including dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, and spiritual care experts, will support your treatment goals and overall health.
Treatment options depend on the type and stage of leukemia. The main treatment for most types of leukemia is chemotherapy. Other options include radiation therapy, surgery, biological therapy, targeted therapies, and stem cell transplant.