4 Common Types of Leukemia

Leukemia is a malignant disease of the blood or bone marrow caused by the proliferation of immature blast cells originating in either the lymphoid or myeloid cells. There are four common leukemia types, CLL, CML, ALL, and AML, each with its own unique leukemia treatment and staging profile.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic leukemia symptoms develop over the course of months or years. Symptoms include pronounced fatigue, frequent nosebleeds, recurrent infections, and fever. The Rai System includes five leukemia stages determined on the basis of lymph node and spleen involvement, and the presence of anemia and/or thrombocytopenia. The presence of all or most of these indicators suggests the cancer is advanced. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and stem cell transplantation. With prompt treatment, CLL patients diagnosed at Rai stage 0 can expect to live 12.5+ years following diagnosis. Those diagnosed at stages I and II can expect to live 7 years or more, while those diagnosed at stages III and IV can expect to live 1.5 years or more.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

CML originates in the myeloid cells. Myeloid leukemia signs and symptoms include bone pain, significant weight loss, fatigue, fever, and early satiety due to an enlarged liver or spleen. CML staging includes the chronic, accelerated, and blast phases, the blast phase being the most severe. CML treatment includes high dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. 5 year leukemia survival rates for CML are greater than 90 percent when diagnosed in the chronic phase.

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Symptoms of ALL are similar to those of chronic leukemia, and include sudden and extreme weakness, unexplained bleeding, prolonged and recurrent fevers, and loss of appetite. ALL has no uniform staging system, and is instead classified as untreated, in remission, or relapsed. Treatment options include prolonged chemotherapy, supplemental radiation, and/or stem cell transplantation. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of ALL patients are cured of the disease.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

AML symptoms include pallor, heart palpitations, frequent or severe nosebleeds, and fatigue. Since there is no standard staging system, AML adheres to the same guidelines as ALL: untreated, in remission, or relapsed. Treatment involves chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, and donor lymphocyte infusion. About 60 to 70 percent of AML patients achieve complete remission. The majority of patients, including patients over 60, live 3 years or more following an AML diagnosis.