The bone marrow and other blood forming organs produce increased
numbers of abnormal white blood cells. The rapid growth of abnormal
cells suppresses the production of normal blood cells.
Types of leukaemias:
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
ALL increases the number of white blood cells called
ALL is the most common form of leukaemia that accounts for 30%
of childhood cancers, and 6% of adolesent cancers. Usually occurs
between 2-8 years old and declines steadily with age.
A 2-3 year treatment plan that includes several phases of
chemotherapy and occasionally radiotherapy to the brain. For high
risk patients or a reoccurance, a bone marrow transplantation may
75-80% of children with ALL survive, however survival rates are
poorer for adolescents and young adults at 51%. If there is a
reoccurrence it normally occurs within the first three years after
treatment. Long term side effects are uncommon.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
With AML there is an increased number of abnormal white blood
cells, called myeloid cells.
Almost as common as ALL in adolescents, but usually occurs in
people ages 20 to 29.
AML can be more difficult to treat. A 6 month treatment plan of
chemotherapyis common.Two or three drugs are used in each course of
treatment lasting from five to 10 days. A total of four or five
courses of chemotherapy are given on a monthly basis. Depending on
the success of chemotherapy, a BMT may be necessary.
Because AML is harder to treat than ALL, survival rates are even
lower. 50% of childhood AML patients and 42% of adolescent AML
patients survive. If there is a reoccurrence it normally occurs
within the first three years after treatment.