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Leukemia

Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

Types of Leukemia

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

An aggressive (fast-growing) disease in which too many myeloblasts (immature white blood cells that are not lymphoblasts) are found in the bone marrow and blood....Read more about Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

An aggressive (fast-growing) type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the blood and bone marrow....Read more about Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

A slowly progressing disease in which too many white blood cells (not lymphocytes) are made in the bone marrow....Read more about Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

An indolent (slow-growing) cancer in which too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells) are found mostly in the blood and bone marrow....Read more about Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Hairy Cell Leukemia

A rare type of leukemia in which abnormal B-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) are present in the bone marrow, spleen, and peripheral blood. When viewed under a microscope, these cells appear to be covered with tiny hair-like projections....Read more about Hairy Cell Leukemia

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Stem cell transplantation in adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukaemia (AML): Executive summary of final report N05-03A, Version 1.0

The aims of this review were the evaluation of studies on certain types of stem cell transplantation versus conventional chemotherapy in adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukaemia (AML); evaluation of studies on certain types of stem cell transplantation compared with each other in adults with ALL or AML.

Purine Antagonists for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia

Despite increasing insight into its tumour biology B‐CLL remains an incurable disease. So far, chemotherapy with alkylating agents such as chlorambucil has been the mainstay of treatment in B‐CLL. However, purine antagonists such as fludarabine are increasingly being used, as it has been suggested that these novel drugs are more effective. This review confirms the greater response rates achievable by using purine antagonists but at the cost of greater toxicity, mainly infections. There is inconclusive evidence whether treatment with purine antagonists improves survival. None of the studies included quality of life data. More research is needed to fully explore the role of purine antagonists in the treatment of B‐CLL and their potential impact on survival.

The use of colony‐stimulating factors in the supportive care of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is an aggressive, rare type of blood cancer manifested by infections, bleeding and a high rate of mortality. It requires immediate treatment with intensive chemotherapy and sometimes also with bone marrow transplantation. Infections are a major cause of mortality in AML patients since intensive chemotherapy lowers the white blood cell (WBC) count and disrupts the immune system. Colony‐stimulating factors (CSFs) are agents administered in order to increase the WBC count, in the hope that this will decrease the rate of infections. However, it has not been established whether their administration might adversely affect other outcomes related to the disease, such as the achievement of remission or the relapse rate. Most importantly, it is unknown whether their administration affects the survival of AML patients. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review assessing the influence of CSFs on disease and infection‐related outcomes. Our review showed that the addition of CSFs to chemotherapy in AML patients affected neither overall survival, nor the achievement of disease remission or the rate of relapse. Importantly, they did not affect the rate of infections in this population. We concluded that CSFs post‐chemotherapy should not be given routinely in AML patients. However, their administration could be considered on an individual basis.

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Summaries for consumers

Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): Overview

Ibrutinib (trade name: Imbruvica) has been approved in Germany since October 2014 for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Purine Antagonists for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia

Despite increasing insight into its tumour biology B‐CLL remains an incurable disease. So far, chemotherapy with alkylating agents such as chlorambucil has been the mainstay of treatment in B‐CLL. However, purine antagonists such as fludarabine are increasingly being used, as it has been suggested that these novel drugs are more effective. This review confirms the greater response rates achievable by using purine antagonists but at the cost of greater toxicity, mainly infections. There is inconclusive evidence whether treatment with purine antagonists improves survival. None of the studies included quality of life data. More research is needed to fully explore the role of purine antagonists in the treatment of B‐CLL and their potential impact on survival.

The use of colony‐stimulating factors in the supportive care of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is an aggressive, rare type of blood cancer manifested by infections, bleeding and a high rate of mortality. It requires immediate treatment with intensive chemotherapy and sometimes also with bone marrow transplantation. Infections are a major cause of mortality in AML patients since intensive chemotherapy lowers the white blood cell (WBC) count and disrupts the immune system. Colony‐stimulating factors (CSFs) are agents administered in order to increase the WBC count, in the hope that this will decrease the rate of infections. However, it has not been established whether their administration might adversely affect other outcomes related to the disease, such as the achievement of remission or the relapse rate. Most importantly, it is unknown whether their administration affects the survival of AML patients. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review assessing the influence of CSFs on disease and infection‐related outcomes. Our review showed that the addition of CSFs to chemotherapy in AML patients affected neither overall survival, nor the achievement of disease remission or the rate of relapse. Importantly, they did not affect the rate of infections in this population. We concluded that CSFs post‐chemotherapy should not be given routinely in AML patients. However, their administration could be considered on an individual basis.

See all (96)

Terms to know

B-Lymphocytes (B-Cells)
A type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. B lymphocytes are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Also called B cell.
Blood
A tissue with red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other substances suspended in fluid called plasma. Blood takes oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and carries away wastes.
Bone Marrow
The soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones. It produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Leukocytes (White Blood Cells)
A type of immune cell. Most white blood cells are made in the bone marrow and are found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells help the body fight infections and other diseases. Granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes are white blood cells.
Lymphoblasts
A lymphocyte that has gotten larger after being stimulated by an antigen. Lymphoblast also refers to an immature cell that can develop into a mature lymphocyte.
Lymphocytes
A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The T cells destroy the body's own cells that have themselves been taken over by viruses or become cancerous.
Myeloblasts
A type of immature white blood cell that forms in the bone marrow. Myeloblasts become mature white blood cells called granulocytes (neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils).
Myeloid
Having to do with or resembling the bone marrow. May also refer to certain types of hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells found in the bone marrow. Sometimes used as a synonym for myelogenous; for example, acute myeloid leukemia and acute myelogenous leukemia are the same disease.

More about Leukemia

Photo of an adult

Also called: Leukaemia

Other terms to know: See all 8
B-Lymphocytes (B-Cells), Blood, Bone Marrow

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