Leukemia and Leukocyte Disorders « Allied Health World Blog

Leukemia and Leukocyte Disorders

Leukemia and infectious mononucleosis are two conditions that are caused from the overproduction of abnormal leukocytes, which are the white blood cells of the body crucial to the body's defense against disease.

Leukemia literally means "white blood" and is a condition that involves cancerous white blood cells. These cancerous white blood cells are descendants of a single renegade leukocyte that was able to clone itself. The cloned cells grow out of control and impair the normal function of the red bone marrow. There are different types of leukemia. Each type is named after the abnormal cell type involved. For example, lymphocytic leukemia involves the lymphocytes and myelocytic leukemia involves myeloblasts. Leukemia can be an acute or chornic disease. Acute leukemia can advance quickly and is derived from blast-type cells. Chronic leukemia is a slower advancing disease that involves cells like myelocytes.

Children seem to be affected more with the acute forms of leukemia and elderly people are more often seen with chronic leukemia. Regardless of the type of leukemia, they are all considered potentially fatal. The only difference between any of them is the amount of time the leukemia takes to damage the body.

All types of leukemia affect the red bone marrow. In both chronic and acute cases the bone marrow becomes totally overtaken by cancerous leukocytes and immature white blood cells flood into the bloodstream. Severe anemia and other types of bleeding problems can result from the overcrowding of blood cell lines. Fever, weight loss, and bone pain are other possible symptoms of leukemia.

Infectious mononucleosis is a contagious viral disease that often affects young adults. The Epstein-Barr virus causes this disease and creates an excessive amount of atypical agrnulocytes. Individuals with mononucleosis may have symptoms of tiredness, aches, chronic sore throat and a low-grade fever.