Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. The bone marrow produces uncharacteristic white blood cells that do not function properly. These white blood cells eventually crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. One blood cell of a person suffering from leukemia goes awry and the body produces large numbers of this cell. In most cases the cell that goes awry is the white blood cell. There are four main types of leukemia. These vary on the type of white blood cell affected and the speed of progression. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are the four main types. Life expectancy of a patient suffering from leukemia varies from one type to another.
The medical fraternity's understanding of and ability to treat leukemia has developed considerably in recent decades. In 1960, the 5-year survival rate for all types of leukemia was about 14%. It has now increased to about 50%. Children suffering from leukemia have a higher life expectancy rate, while people over the age of sixty have a comparatively lower life expectancy rate. The two main forms in which leukemia can be broadly termed are chronic and acute. Acute leukemia means that the disease grows rapidly and the usually life expectancy without treatment varies from a few weeks to a few months. Chronic leukemia, however, progresses gradually and with the appropriate cure, life expectancy can be up to 20 years or more after the onset of sickness.
Life expectancy of patients depends on the different factors such as health, age of the patient, severity of the disease, and treatment provided. While the life expectancy amongst ALL and AML is short due to its rapidly progressing nature, life expectancy amongst CLL and CML extend from three years to twenty years.
Over the years statistics have shown that life expectancy among people suffering from leukemia has grown considerably. This increase can be attributed to advanced studies and research. Innovation and invention of new and effective treatment procedures have also contributed to such an increase.