DefinitionLeukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. In cancer, cells become abnormal and grow out of control. As the number of abnormal blood cells increase, the healthy blood cells are outnumbered. There are three main types of blood cells. Each has a distinct job:
- White blood cells (WBC), also called lymphocytes, are most often involved in leukemia. Their main job is to help the immune system.
- Red blood cells (RBC) carry oxygen throughout the body.
- Platelets help the blood clot at injury sites.
|White Blood Cells|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesCancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to other parts of the body.It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your child's chance of leukemia include:
- Exposure to some environmental and chemical factors such as:
- Having a sibling, especially an identical twin, who develops leukemia
- Having a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome , Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome , Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia, neurofibromatosis , or Fanconi anemia
More from Beliefnet
A systematic review found that participants given chewing gum after abdominal surgery may have a faster return to normal for their digestive system. Unfortunately, the quality of trials is low and more research will need to be done before this simple solution is confirmed.
Early Peanut Consumption Associated with Lower Risk of Peanut Allergy in High Risk Children
Breastfeeding May Decrease the Risk of Childhood Obesity
Tonsillectomy May Reduce Number of Sore Throat Days in Children