Leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called “blasts”. Leukaemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of cancerous diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as haematological neoplasm’s.
Leukaemia is a treatable disease. Most treatments involve chemotherapy, medical radiation therapy, or hormone treatments. The rate of cure depends on the type of leukaemia as well as the age of the patient. Children are more likely to be permanently cured than adults. Even when a complete cure is unlikely, most people with a chronic leukaemia and many people with an acute leukaemia can be successfully treated for years.
Leukaemia can affect people at any age. In 2000 approximately 256,000 children and adults around the world developed some form of leukaemia, and 209,000 died from it. About 90% of all leukaemias are diagnosed in adults.