Unlike other cancers, leukemia doesn’t generally form a mass (tumor) that shows up in imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans.

There are many types of leukemia. Some are more common in children, while others are more common in adults. Treatment depends on the type of leukemia and other factors.

Leukemia begins in bone marrow, the soft spongy tissue in the inner cavity of your bones, where your body’s blood cells are made. Blood cells go through multiple stages before reaching their fully mature forms. Mature, normal blood cells include: red blood cells (cells that carry oxygen and other vital materials); white blood cells (cells that fight infection) and platelets (cells that help your blood clot).

These blood cells start as hematopoietic (hemo = blood, poiesis = make) stem cells. The stem cells develop into either myeloid (MAI-uh-loyd) cells or lymphoid (LIM-foyd) cells. If blood cells were to continue to develop normally, the mature forms of these cells are as follows: myeloid cells develop into red blood cells, platelets and certain types of white blood cells (basophils, eosinophils and neutrophils) and lymphoid cells develop into certain white blood cells (lymphocytes and natural killer cells).

However, if you have leukemia, one of the developing blood cells begins to multiply out of control. These abnormal cells — called leukemia cells — begin to take over the space inside of your bone marrow. They crowd out the cells trying to develop into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

There are four main types of leukemia and several subtypes. Healthcare providers classify leukemia based on how fast the disease worsens and whether leukemia cells arise from myeloid cells or lymphoid cells.

Scientists don’t know what causes these developing cells to mutate. They’ve been able to identify some common mutations that people diagnosed with different types of leukemia share.

Results from routine blood work can alert your healthcare provider that you may have an acute or chronic form of leukemia that requires further testing. Or they may recommend a workup if you have leukemia symptoms.

Diagnostic exams and tests may include: a physical exam; complete blood count; blood cell examination; bone marrow biopsy; imaging and other tests and lumbar puncture.

Treatments for leukemia depend on the type of leukemia you have, your age and overall health, and if the leukemia has spread to other organs or tissues.

Common treatments often include a combination of the following: chemotherapy; immunotherapy (biologic therapy): targeted therapy; radiation therapy; hematopoietic cell transplant (stem cell or bone marrow transplant) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy:

Clinical trials are also available to test new cancer treatments.

For more information contact Grupo HPA Saude at +351 282 420 400