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What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer that mostly affects the blood and bone marrow, the tissue that makes blood cells. There are several different types of leukemia, some more rare than others, some which affect children more than adults and vice versa, but all share similar characteristics and symptoms. The disease spreads quickly and primarily targets white blood cells forming in the bone marrow.

Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells are part of the body's defense system to prevent and fight infection. In leukemia, these white blood cells cannot do their job.

Leukemia is a problem with white blood cells. White blood cells are made in the bone marrow. In leukemia, there’s a problem with the way white blood cells are made. The bone marrow makes faulty white blood cells, or leukemia cells, and doesn’t know when to stop making them. Eventually, the leukemia cells crowd out the normal blood cells and spill out into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, the leukemia cells can travel all over the body.

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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.