The diagnosis "acute leukemia" is probably something shocking for everyone. You may know that it has something to do with the blood and that it is a cancer, but how exactly what is not working is usually unclear. Often all that is known is that it is a dangerous and threatening disease.
Disease of the haematopoietic system
The basic features of the disease already lie in its name. The term leukaemia is derived from the Greek "leukós" for white and "haima" for blood. This indicates that something is wrong with the white blood cells, the leukocytes. However, it is not the blood itself, but rather the blood-forming organs that are abnormally changed.
In the hematopoietic system, the most diverse cells of the blood grow and mature. These include not only several types of white blood cells (leukocytes), but also red blood cells (erythrocytes) and platelets (thrombocytes).
Too many leukocyte stem cells
In leukemia, the stem cells in a leukocyte population no longer function. Because of this, either too many or too few or immature blood cells are made and leaked into the blood. The maturation of other blood cells can thus be suppressed. The blood count then shows a very large number of immature leukocyte populations, while the other cell types are reduced.
Acute leukaemia is a disease that develops very rapidly. A distinction can be made between acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). ALL is often found in children, while adults tend to have AML.