Leukemia

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Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is here for our patients every step of the way. Our integrated approach ensures your cancer care is customized to your unique needs. We use the latest research, advanced testing and most-effective treatments to provide exceptional and compassionate leukemia care.

What Is Leukemia?

Leukemia is a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Unlike other cancers, leukemia does not cause tumors. It occurs when normal bone marrow cells undergo a change and convert to a leukemic cell. These cells may rapidly divide and multiply, limiting your body's ability to make healthy red and white blood cells. As the number of abnormal cells increase, the development of normal cells decreases or are “suppressed.” With the increases of abnormal cells, leukemia may begin to affect the functioning of your major organs. Leukemia is grouped by the type of cell affected, lymphoid (tissue in the lymph nodes) or myeloid (related to the bone marrow) and by the rate of cell growth, either acute (fast) or chronic (slow).

Who Gets Leukemia?

Compared to other cancers, leukemia is fairly uncommon. Leukemia is a genetic disease, but generally not hereditary. It causes mutations in genes and these abnormal mutations are not hereditary. Leukemia is largely considered a children’s disease, but it affects more adults. The risk for leukemia increases with age. Leukemia is more common in men than women, and more common in Caucasians than African Americans. The number of new leukemia cases per year (2012-2016) was 14.1 per 100,000 men and women.

What Kind of Doctor Treats Leukemia?

As a Banner MD Anderson patient, you’ll receive first-class care from a team of doctors built around your specific needs. Leukemia patients likely will receive care from a hematologist, a doctor who treats disorders of the blood and a medical oncologist, a doctor who treats cancer using medications. You will also have many other specialists on your treatment team, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists and social workers.

Learn More about Leukemia

What Causes Leukemia?

The exact cause of leukemia is still unknown. Doctors believe a variety of risk factors can make you more likely to get the disease such as a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Learn more about leukemia causes, risk factors, and prevention.

What Are the Signs, Symptoms, and Types of Leukemia?

Common signs of leukemia include fatigue, fever, bruising, weight loss, weakness and pain. However, some symptoms of leukemia may not show up until the disease is more advanced. There are several types of leukemia based on the type of cells that are affected.

Learn more about leukemia signs, symptoms, and types.

How Is Leukemia Diagnosed?

While there are no standard screening tests for leukemia, doctors may find it during routine blood tests. For a confirmed diagnosis, doctors may need to do a bone marrow test.

Learn more about leukemia tests, diagnosis, prognosis, and stages.

How Is Leukemia Treated?

Leukemia is often treated using a combination of therapies. Your prognosis depends on your type of leukemia, how far it’s progressed, and how your body responds to treatment. Banner MD Anderson’s Integrated Oncology Program offers treatment and support for any physical or emotional symptoms and side effects that you may experience.

Learn more about leukemia treatment, side effects, and support.