Chronic Leukemia

Types of Chronic Leukemia

The type of white blood cell that is affected will determine the type of chronic leukemia. Chronic leukemia can develop in lymphoid cells or myeloid cells. Chronic leukemia that affects lymphoid cells is called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Chronic leukemia that affects myeloid cells is called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia accounts for about 7,000 new cases of leukemia each year. In most cases, people who are diagnosed with this type of chronic leukemia are more than 55 years of age. CLL almost never affects children.
Other names for chronic lymphocytic leukemia include:
  • CLL
  • Chronic lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Chronic lymphatic leukemia.
Chronic myeloid leukemia accounts for about 4,400 new cases of leukemia each year. This type of chronic leukemia affects mainly adults.
Other names for chronic myeloid leukemia include:

What Causes It?

Most people with chronic myelogenous leukemia have a gene mutation (change) called the Philadelphia chromosome.
Every cell in the body contains DNA (genetic material) that determines how the cell looks and acts. DNA is contained inside chromosomes. In CML, part of the DNA from one chromosome moves to another chromosome, this change is called the "Philadelphia chromosome." This will result in the bone marrow making an enzyme, called tyrosine kinase, which causes too many stem cells to develop into white blood cells (granulocytes or blasts). The Philadelphia chromosome is not passed from parent to child.
No one knows the exact causes of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get CLL and another person will not. However, chronic leukemia research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop this type of chronic leukemia. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chances of developing a disease.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia risk factors include:
  • Being middle-aged or older, male, or Caucasian
  • A family history of chronic lymphocytic leukemia or cancer of the lymph system
  • Having relatives who are Russian Jews or Eastern European Jews.
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Chronic Leukemia Info

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