How does leukemia affect the body?

Leukemia affects the body by disrupting the normal balance of cells in the blood and their ability to do their jobs. Reduced levels of white blood cells, which normally defend the body from infection, can lead to higher chances of catching secondary diseases. Reduced levels of platelets, the cells that cause blood to clot, lead to more frequent bruises and nosebleeds. If the cancerous cells spread to the brain, headaches and nausea can result from tissues around the brain and spinal cord becoming irritated and inflamed. Finally, painful bones can result from the cancerous cells spreading into the bone marrow.

Continue Learning about Leukemia


You may be surprised to find that leukemia isnt just one type of cancer but actually a category of multiple cancers that affect our blood cells. Both children and adults can be diagnosed with these cancers, which cause our bone ma...

rrow to produce abnormal white blood cells.These abnormal cells, called leukemic cells, can accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, crowding out any healthy white blood cells. The white blood cells exist to fight infection and disease. The leukemic cells also harm our platelets, which protects us from bleeding out, and the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies. Leukemia can progress either rapidly (acutely) or slowly (chronically). Depending on its progression and the type of cell it affects, a leukemia diagnosis can fall into four broad categories. Regardless of the type, infection, anemia and bleeding are common effects of this cancer.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.