Blood cancer and the different types in young people
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
AML is a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It belongs to the group of leukaemias that develop in the myeloid cell line in the bone marrow. Because AML is a fast developing type of cancer, it usually needs to be treated right away. Treatment is:
Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APML)
APML is part of the same family as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) but it behaves a bit differently.
It is unique in that there is a switching of two chromosomes within the DNA (chromosomes 15 and 17). APML is unique from other leukaemias in the fact that it responds well to trans-retinoic acid (vitamin A) therapy. This treatment helps make the leukaemic cells either mature properly or die, and can lead to remission in a great majority of patients. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)
In children and younger people, ALL is a common type of cancer of the white blood cells. It is a rare cancer for older adults. In acute lymphoblastic leukaemia there is an overproduction of immature lymphocytes, which are sometimes referred to as blast cells. These immature cells fill up the bone marrow and stop it from making blood cells properly.
Treatment plans for ALL is chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This can be for up to two years. Some patients may also require a bone marrow transplant. There are clinical trials available to treat ALL. Ask your doctor about this.
Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML)
CML develops when damaged myeloid white blood cells grow out of control. These abnormal white cells are not fully developed and do not work properly. They live too long, so there are too many circulating in the blood, which crowds out your normally working cells.
Treatment for CML depends on the stage of the illness, but the main type of treatment is an oral tablet that works by blocking signals within the leukaemia cells, that makes them die.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)
Is the most common type of leukaemia but it's rare in people under the age of 40. It develops slowly over a long period of time ranging from months to years.
It is a cancer of the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It affects a particular lymphocyte, the B cell, which comes from the bone marrow, develops in the lymph nodes, and normally fights infection.
Treatment is chemotherapy, radiotherapy or occasionally surgery to remove an enlarged spleen. This is known as a splenectomy.
High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant may be suggested for younger patients, as it has been shown to work well. But this is a more aggressive type of treatment which can be dangerous, especially if you have other medical problems such as heart damage.