Leukemia is a disease of the white blood cells.

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It begins in the bone marrow, which is the soft, spongy, inner portion of bones where different types of blood cells are made. When leukemia develops, the body makes too many immature white blood cells, which crowd out normal blood cells. Leukemia can spread from the bone marrow to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, brain, liver and spleen etc.

The cause of some leukemia is now well understood. For example, leukemia cells in some people with chronic myeloid leukemia contain an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome (it was first described in Philadelphia). This causes a protein to be made that interferes with the way white blood cells are made in the bone marrow. This is not inherited and you cannot pass it on to your children.

Exposure to certain things may increase the risk of leukemia, including

  • large doses of radiation,
  • drugs used to treat certain cancers,
  • some industrial chemicals (e.g. benzene, found in oil refineries and the rubber industry), and
  • certain viruses.

It should be noted, however, that even large doses of radiation do not necessarily cause leukemia. Over a period of 12 years after the atomic bombs were exploded in Japan, the proportion of survivors who developed leukemia was 1 in 60 (1.7 per cent).

Smoking and exposure to electromagnetic fields are both sometimes talked about as possible causes of leukemia, but there is not enough evidence to support this.

Genetic factors do also have an effect. If one of a pair of identical twins develops leukemia, in one out of four cases the other will also do so, within weeks or months. People with certain genetic disorders, including Down’s syndrome, are known to have a higher risk of developing leukemia.

Other sources of information for these topics.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Fighting leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

Leukemia Research Foundation
Functions as a clearinghouse for information including research grants, bone marrow drives and other events.

Online Pharmacy Information

There are some diseases like leukemia that the medication is very specialized. Sometimes these medications can be found at an online pharmacy and other times they cannot. Medications that require refrigeration are very hard to get to you because of shipping shortcomings.

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