Leukemia is a cancer that affects the white blood cells. Although leukemia can develop in children, there are several types of the condition that doctors most often diagnose in adults.
The types of leukemia that can occur in adults include:
Leukemia can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections, anemia, and easy bleeding or bruising.
In this article, we discuss leukemia in adults in detail, including its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Leukemia is a cancer that affects blood-forming cells. Mostly it affects the white blood cells.
All blood cells in the human body begin their life cycle as stem cells, which are present in a person’s bone marrow. As the blood cells mature, they go through different stages of development.
Leukemia occurs when a type of immature blood cell mutates and begins to grow uncontrollably. The overgrowth of one type of blood cells crowds out the others, causing a range of symptoms.
Leukemia can develop at any age. Some types are more common in adults, while others are more likely to develop in children and adolescents.
Doctors categorize leukemias based on two broad characteristics: how quickly they grow and the type of blood-forming cell they affect.
Immature blood cells can be myeloid or lymphoid. Myeloid cells become red blood cells, platelets, or specific types of white blood cells. Lymphoid cells have the potential to become other types of white blood cells.
Leukemia affecting myeloid cells is known as myeloid or myeloid leukemia while leukemia affecting lymphoid cells is known as lymphoid, lymphocytic or lymphoblastic.
The types of leukemia most common in adults are:
CLL is the most common type of chronic leukemia in adults and rarely develops in children. It starts in lymphoid cells that later become lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
In this chronic, slow-growing form of leukemia, the cancer cells usually build up gradually, with many people experiencing no symptoms for several years. This may mean that they do not require treatment.
Over time, the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. In some cases, CLL can become a more aggressive cancer that is challenging for doctors to treat.
AML is a fast-growing form of leukemia involving myeloid cells. It usually affects cells that eventually become white blood cells, but it can also affect immature red blood cells or platelets.
AML is the most common acute leukemia in adults. It accounts for half of the leukemia diagnoses for people in their 20s.
Although AML originates in the bone marrow, it can quickly spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lymph nodes, spleen, spinal cord, brain, or testicles.
As with AML, CML affects myeloid cells. However, it grows slowly.
It can develop in anyone, but it is most common in adults. The mean age at diagnosis is 64 years.
ALL is most common in children, accounting for 80% of all cases. However, 20% of adult leukemia cases fall into this category.
ALL is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer that affects lymphoid white blood cells.
Symptoms of adult leukemia can vary depending on the type of leukemia a person has. People with chronic forms may not have many symptoms for a while.
Those who do may experience one or more of the following:
Some of the factors that can increase the risk of leukemia in adults include:
have had smoking exposure to radiation or benzene who have had previous chemotherapy have certain viral infections, such as human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 have a genetic syndrome, such as Down syndrome, Bloom syndrome, or Fanconi anemia have a history of other blood disorders
The incidence of leukemia is higher in men than in women, and the risk of developing leukemia increases with age.
To diagnose adult leukemia, doctors will ask the person about their symptoms and perform a physical exam to look for symptoms such as bruising.
They will then recommend diagnostic tests such as:
a complete blood count, which can detect high or low levels of various blood cells bone marrow biopsy and aspiration, which allows doctors to examine a small amount of bone marrow tissue a blood smear, which doctors examine under a microscope for signs of cancer flow cytometry, which analyzes single cells in a special machine
A doctor can diagnose leukemia if they find leukemic cells in the bone marrow samples.
To determine the type and stage of the cancer, they need to determine whether the cells are myeloid or lymphoid and what percentage of the bone marrow these cells make up.
Treatment for leukemia depends on the type a person has. Treatment options may include:
ALL requires immediate treatment to prevent the leukemia from spreading. This may involve intensive chemotherapy, targeted drug treatment and a stem cell transplant.
For most forms of AML, chemotherapy is the main treatment, sometimes in addition to targeted therapy. Surgery and radiation therapy are only treatment options for specific conditions.
The primary form of treatment for CML is targeted therapy drugs. This includes tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which have been a breakthrough in the treatment of CML. TKIs reduce disease progression and can control CML in the long term, causing fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
People with CLL may not need treatment, or they may not need it for a long time. Some people survive as long as the general population. There are medications that reduce the impact of the condition and control symptoms. However, there is no cure except stem cell transplant.
Individuals should seek advice from a health care professional if they experience any of the symptoms that may indicate leukemia.
Especially with regard to symptoms are:
anemia, which causes symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, and palpitations frequent or severe infections bruising more easily than usual excessive bleeding, such as severe nosebleed unusually heavy periods
Leukemia is a cancer that affects the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. It can affect myeloid or lymphoid cells, and it can grow quickly or slowly. Doctors use these characteristics to categorize the type of leukemia a person has.
In adults, CLL is the most common form of leukemia. Acute or fast-growing varieties are also possible.
Leukemia can spread from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, allowing it to travel to other parts of the body.
Treatment options vary, but they may include chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy, or stem cell transplants.