Four Main Types of Leukemia

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There is a wide range of types of leukemia. However, the major division is between its acute and chronic forms. Both acute and chronic leukemia have two forms which are explained properly below.

  • Four main types:
Cell types Acute Chronic
Lymphocytic leukemia Acute lymphoblastic leukemia Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Myelogenous leukemia Acute myelogenous leukemia Chronic myelogenous leukemia

Chronic leukemia (CL):

Cells of CL are relatively mature. However, they are still abnormal and undeveloped. They originate rapidly. However, their progression rate is low. They may take several months or years to develop, multiply and progress. This cause a large number of abnormal white blood cells. Whereas acute leukemia is fast growing and must be treated immediately. Chronic forms are monitored for some time. So that doctor can ensure maximum effectiveness of therapy.

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML):

Chronic granulocytic leukemia (CGL) is also a name a CML. In CML, myeloid cells increase unnaturally in the bone marrow and then, over time, spreads to the blood. Eventually, the disease spreads to other areas of the body. CML falls under chronic form this indicates that myeloid cells get to birth at a high rate but their growth is slow. However, the main difference that sets CML apart from other types is its association with abnormal chromosome known as the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph chromosome).

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL):

CLL affects  B cell lymphocytes, which fights infection by producing antibiotics. Therefore, B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is also a name of CLL. B cell lymphocyte originates in bone marrow and develops in lymph nodes. CLL develops when too many abnormal b-cell lymphocytes grow, crowding out normal blood cells and making it difficult for the body to fight infection. This overproduction of b-cell lymphocyte causes CLL. It also falls under ‘chronic’ form that means b-cell lymphocytes develop and multiply slowly. Therefore, it may take a longer time to show symptoms.

Acute leukemia (AL):

Opposite to CL, it takes no time to birth, develop, and multiply. In AL, one needs immediate treatment. Malignant cells originate, develop and multiply unnaturally that causes abnormal and unwanted cells. These cells through blood reach to other organ and cause cancer. This form is the most common one in children.

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL):

ALL is the overproduction of immature white blood cells in the bone marrow known as lymphoblast. Rapid growth in lymphoblast (can also refer to immature cells which typically differentiate to form mature lymphocytes) causes the death of normal and healthy cells. ALL wastes the source of bone marrow that produce functional blood cells. It is most common in childhood (mainly 2–5 years of age) and after 45 years of age.

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML):

It is a cancer of myeloid line of blood cells. It occurs when unmatured ‘blasts’ originates in bone marrow. These blasts should develop as white blood cells. However, in AML these blasts (cells) do not develop and causes abnormal white blood cells. In AML, the bone marrow may also make abnormal red blood cells and platelets. The number of these abnormal cells increases rapidly, and the abnormal cells begin to crowd out the normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets that the body needs. AML have 8 different subtypes.

Some other types:

  • Hairy cell
  • T-cell prolymphocytic
  • Large granular lymphocytic
  • Adult T-cell

Most of the types, including four main types, have many subtypes.


The primary differences between the four main types have to do with their rates of progression and where cancer develops.

For example, the rate of progression of chronic leukemia is less than acute leukemia. Whereas, both types of chronic leukemia have different causes and places for cancer. However, to a non-medical person, both may seem the same.

It is equally important to know about the types because the decision of treatment and therapy is taken by looking at the exact type of cancer.

Devanshu Shrivastava

Born In July Of 1998. I am an Ex-student of MP Birla Institute of Fundamental Research. Studied Astrophysics & Astronomy. With The Love For Science And Hobby of Writing, I Am Trying To Create Awareness Of Every Possible Health Issue.

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