What is leukaemia?

Leukaemia occurs when abnormal blood-forming cells in the bone marrow grow in an uncontrolled way. Leukaemia usually starts in the early form of white blood cells in the bone marrow, but some leukaemias start in other types of blood-forming cells. Read More

Leukaemia results in the body producing too many of the type of blood cell affected. The leukaemia cells don’t develop into normal mature blood cells, and don’t function in the way that normal blood cells do – for example, to fight infections. When the leukaemia cells build up in the bone marrow and blood, there is less room for healthy blood cells. This can result in anaemia, infection and bleeding easily. The leukaemia cells may spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and testicles.

Leukaemia is 1 of the 10 most common cancers in both men and women in Australia. It is the most common cancer in children and teenagers; around one-third of cancers in these young people are leukaemias, mostly one of the acute forms. Hide