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Leukemia Information & Treatment from Tampa General Hospital

Woman hugging a young girl with cancerLeukemia is a type of blood cancer that is categorized by cancer of the blood cells. With this type of cancer, the cancerous blood cells develop and overcrowd the healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. There are different types of this cancer, based on whether the cancer is classified as acute or chronic, whether the cancer has occurred in an adult or child, and whether it is myeloid or lymphocytic.

Leukemia is classified as being acute when it gets worse rapidly and chronic when the cancer is slower-growing and gets worse gradually over time. Another factor in classifying this type of cancer is the type of bone marrow cells that are affected. Myeloid, or myelogenous, leukemia begins in the early myeloid cells, which are the cells that can become white blood cells (but not lymphocytes), red blood cells, or platelet-making cells. Lymphocytic, or lymphoblastic, leukemia starts in the white blood cells that become lymphocytes. The most common type of childhood leukemia is acute lymphocytic (ALL), per the American Cancer Society. 

The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but experts have identified risk factors that include exposure to large amounts of radiation and exposure to benzene. Many people with the disease have no symptoms. For other people, symptoms may depend on the type of leukemia they have, and can include:

  • Pain in the bones or joints
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent fevers
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Unexplained appetite loss or weight loss.      

Treatment for the disease is determined by the type of the blood cancer and other factors such as the extent of the disease and a patient’s age and health. Chemotherapy is the main form of treatment for most types of the disease. Other treatments include radiation, stem-cell tranplants, and targeted therapy, which is the use of special medicines to stop the cancerous blood cells from multiplying.

At Tampa General Hospital, we treat all other forms of blood cancer in our Hematology/Oncology Clinic. TGH’s cancer specialists have the resources and skills necessary to properly diagnose, evaluate, and treat all forms of leukemia and the related symptoms this blood cancer can cause. We utilize the latest treatment options to achieve the best possible results for our patients.

If you have been diagnosed with leukemia and would like to be connected with a Tampa General hematology oncologist, please call (813) 844-2200.