The word Leukemia comes from the Greek leukos which means “white” and aima which means“blood”. It is cancer of the blood or bone marrow (which produces blood cells). A person who has leukemia suffers from an abnormal production of blood cells, generally leukocytes (white blood cells).
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The DNA of immature blood cells, mainly white cells, becomes damaged in some way. This abnormality causes the blood cells to grow and divide chaotically. Normal blood cells die after a while and are replaced by new cells which are produced in the bone marrow.
The abnormal blood cells do not die so easily, and accumulate, occupying more and more space. As more and more space is occupied by these faulty blood cells there is less and less space for the normal cells – and the sufferer becomes ill. Quite simply, the bad cells crowd out the good cells in the blood.
In order to better understand what goes on we need to have a look at what the bone marrow does.
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