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How does leukemia happen?

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Blood has three types of cells: white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen, and platelets that help blood to clot.

Every day, billions of new blood cells are made in the bone marrow -- most of them red cells. However, when you have leukemia, your body makes more white cells than it needs.

There are two main types of white blood cells in your body: lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. Leukemia can happen in either type.

These leukemia cells can’t fight infection the way normal white blood cells do -- and because there are so many of them, they start to affect the way your major organs work. Eventually, there aren’t enough red blood cells to supply oxygen, enough platelets to clot the blood, or enough normal white blood cells to fight infection.

Along with infection, this can cause problems like anemia, bruising, and bleeding.

From: What Is Leukemia? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Learn About Cancer (Detailed Guide): Leukemia -- Acute Lymphocytic," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Acute Myeloid (AML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Myeloid (CML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia in Children."

National Cancer Institute: "Leukemia." "Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version. Treatment Option Overview," "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: "Leukemia."

Cancer.Net: "Understanding Targeted Therapy."

Mayo Clinic: "Leukemia: Treatments and drugs."

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Leukemia Treatment."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on September 26, 2017

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Learn About Cancer (Detailed Guide): Leukemia -- Acute Lymphocytic," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Acute Myeloid (AML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia -- Chronic Myeloid (CML)," "Learn About Cancer: Leukemia in Children."

National Cancer Institute: "Leukemia." "Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version. Treatment Option Overview," "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)-Patient Version."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: "Leukemia."

Cancer.Net: "Understanding Targeted Therapy."

Mayo Clinic: "Leukemia: Treatments and drugs."

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: "Leukemia Treatment."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on September 26, 2017

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