Leukemia may develop quickly (acute leukemia) or slowly (chronic leukemia). It can also affect different types of white blood cells.

The most common types of leukemia are:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults. It affects myeloid cells – cells that are involved in the creation of white blood cells.
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia. It affects lymphocytes – white blood cells that form lymphatic tissue, which makes up your immune system.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). CML is more common in older adults. It affects myeloid cells and is caused by a chromosome mutation that is not fully understood yet.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CLL is the most common type of chronic leukemia in adults. It affects lymphocytes.

Other types of blood cancers that are similar to leukemia include myeloproliferative diseases and systemic mastocytosis. Myeloproliferative diseases happen when the body makes too many white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets. Systemic mastocytosis occurs when a type of white blood cell called a mast cell builds up in internal tissues and organs.

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