Leukemia is a cancer of blood cells (and therefore sometimes referred to as blood cancer).
While the exact cause(s) of leukemia is not known, risk factors have been identified, including radiation exposure, certain chemotherapy for cancer, smoking, family history of leukemia, and exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene.
Common symptoms of chronic or acute leukemia may include
pain in the bones or joints,
swollen lymph nodes that usually don’t hurt,
fevers or night sweats,
feeling weak or tired,
bleeding and bruising easily,
discomfort or swelling in the abdomen,
weight loss or loss of appetite.
Leukemias are grouped by how quickly the disease develops (acute or chronic) as well as by the type of blood cell that is affected (lymphocytes or myelocytes). The four main types of leukemia include acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute myelocytic leukemia (AML), and chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML).
People with leukemia are at significantly increased risk for developing infections, anemia, and bleeding. Other symptoms and signs include easy bruising, weight loss, night sweats, and unexplained fevers.