Childhood leukemia, the most common type of cancer in children and teens, is a cancer of the white blood cells. Abnormal white blood cells form in the bone marrow. They quickly travel through the bloodstream and crowd out healthy cells. This increases the body's chances of infection and other problems.
As tough as it is for a child to have cancer, it's good to know that most children and teens with childhood leukemia can be successfully treated.
Blood disorders can affect any of the three main components of blood:
Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues
White blood cells, which fight infections
Platelets, which help blood to clot
Blood disorders can also affect the liquid portion of blood, called plasma.
Treatments and prognosis for blood diseases vary, depending on the blood condition and its severity.
Doctors don't know exactly what causes most cases of childhood leukemia. But certain factors may increase the chances of getting it. Keep in mind, though, that having a risk factor does not necessarily mean a child will get leukemia. In fact, most children with leukemia don't have any known risk factors.
The risk for childhood leukemia increases if your child has: