Leukemia is cancer of the developing blood cells in the bone marrow. Leukemia leads to rampant overproduction of white blood cells (leukocytes); symptoms usually include anemia, fever, enlarged liver, spleen, and/or lymph nodes.
There are different types of leukemia, differentiated by the type of white blood cell involved, and they have different rates of progression. Faster-progressing leukemias tend to be more common among children, while the slower types tend to be seen more often in the elderly.
Leukemia is 100% fatal if not treated, death usually being caused by internal hemorrhage and/or serious infections. It can be treated by radiation or certain drugs, and bone marrow transplants are used when compatible donors are available.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology, by Elaine Maries, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, 1995