Leukemia and lymphoma are two types of cancer that are found in the blood. Someone in the United States is diagnosed with some type of blood cancer every three minutes, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (1)
While there are some similarities between the conditions, there are also significant differences in how the diseases develop and what symptoms are associated with them.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is cancer that typically begins in cells in the bone marrow that make blood. Leukemia most often affects white blood cells, although it can affect other types of blood cells. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system to fight off diseases. (2)
When someone has leukemia, their bone marrow produces too many cells that are abnormal. These cells don’t die off when they should. Instead, they continue to multiply and crowd out other healthy cells, including the red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients and healthy white blood cells that fight infections. (2)
In 2014, approximately 52,380 people in the United States were diagnosed with leukemia. Over 327,500 people in this country are currently living with or are in remission from leukemia. (1)
Leukemia is known as either myeloid or lymphoid, depending on which type of white blood cells are affected by the disease.
Leukemia is further categorized based on how quickly it develops. Acute types of leukemia tend to develop quickly and cause more severe symptoms as large numbers of abnormal cells quickly overrun healthy cells in the blood.
Chronic leukemia, which is the more common type, tends to grow more slowly in the early stages of the disease, and may cause fewer symptoms. (2,4)
Some types of leukemia can occur in both children and adults, while other types typically occur only in children or in adults. One type of leukemia called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. JMML usually occurs only in children under the age of six. (2)
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is the name used for a group of cancers that develop in the lymphatic system.