Leukemia

MaineHealth’s oncologists and cancer specialists offer skilled and compassionate treatment for adults and children diagnosed with leukemia and other blood diseases. State-of-the-art cancer treatment is provided through inpatient and outpatient care.

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood that forms in the bone marrow, the place where blood cells develop. With leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. They may crowd out the marrow space and make it hard for normal blood cells (i.e., red cells, white cells and platelets) to do their work. Leukemia is most common in adults 55 years of age and older. But leukemia also is the most common cancer in children under 15 years old. Leukemia can be grouped by how quickly the disease develops.

  • Chronic leukemia gets worse slowly. Often people may not notice any symptoms at first.

  • Acute leukemia spreads quickly. The number of leukemia cells increases rapidly.

Leukemia Symptoms

Symptoms of Leukemia are Broad and Varied

Leukemia symptoms may suggest problems that seem unrelated to leukemia. Signs of chronic or acute leukemia may include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit

  • Fevers or night sweats

  • Frequent infections

  • Weakness and feeling tired

  • Frequent bleeding and bruising, such as purple patches on the skin, tiny red spots, and bleeding gums

  • Swollen stomach, or discomfort

  • Weight loss

  • Joint and bone pain

Leukemia Diagnosis

Concerned? Contact Your Provider

It’s important to contact your health care provider, if you think you have a problem. Your doctor may order screening tests that include taking samples of blood and bone marrow. The samples will be taken to look for the presence of leukemia cells, DNA markers, and chromosome changes.

Leukemia Treatments

Leukemia Treatment Depends on the Type

Depending on the type of leukemia (chronic or acute) and other factors, standard treatments can include:

  • Watchful waiting

  • Chemotherapy

  • Targeted therapy

  • Radiation

  • Stem cell transplant

 

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