Leukemia and other diseases of the blood and bone marrow may affect red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Common types of leukemia found in childhood cancer are:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): a fast growing form of leukemia that occurs when the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML): a type of leukemia in which the bone marrow makes a large number of abnormal blood cells.
  • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia: this type of leukemia forms when too many bone marrow stem cells become two types of white blood cells. Some of these cells never become mature white cells.
  • Chronic mylegenous leukemia: a form of leukemia that occurs when too many bone marrow stem cells become a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. Some of these cells never become mature white cells.

Treatment for children with leukemia is tailored to each child, depending on their illness. Chemotherapy and radiation are often used. At times, a blood or marrow transplantation (BMT) may be recommended.

Why we need better, safer treatments:

The 5-year survival rate is dependent on each type of leukemia. For children with ALL, it is more than 85 percent overall. For children with AML, the 5-year survival rate now ranges between 60-70 percent. For children with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, it is about 50 percent. Chronic types of leukemia have a 5-year survival rate of about 60-80 percent.

Sources: U.S. National Library of Medicine, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

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