Leukemia is a of blood cells and the bone marrow. The name "Leukemia" derives from the greek terms for white (leukos) and blood (aima) indicating, that it is a disorder affecting the white blood cells, the leukocytes. When affected by Leukemia the leukocytes proliferate abnormally. Other cells of the plasma, such as erythrocytes (red blood cells) and thrombocytes (platelet cells) for instance are not affected. In 2000, approximately 256,000 children and adults around the world developed a form of Leukemia, and 209,000 died from it.
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The progress of the disease depends on the type of Leukemia, i.e. acute or chronic Leukemia, with acute leading to a faster deterioration than chronic Leukemia. In addition, there are four different categories of Leukemia, depending on the classes of being affected. A morphological change in leukocytes leads to an inhibition of the normal function in the defense against infections. Hence Leukemia patients often experience an increased prevalence of infections and fevers, besides other symptoms.
These other symptoms partially derive from an imbalance of the other blood cells, like erythrocytes and platelets, leading to a lack of oxygen and a disturbance in the clotting reaction. Other symptoms can include weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, enlarged spleen and liver, pain in bones and joints, and many more. The causes of Leukemia, whether genetic or environmental, are poorly understood, complicating the development of prevention programs or efficient treatment regimens.
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