Leukemia is a form of cancer that starts in the bone marrow and affects the blood cells. It causes the bone marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells, which grow quicker than usual and start to crowd out normal cells.
There are two varieties of leukemia: lymphocytic leukemia, which affects the white blood cells, and myelogenous leukemia, which affects platelets and red blood cells. Both may be either acute or chronic: acute leukemia worsens rapidly and symptoms manifest within a short space of time, while chronic leukemia may not appear for years, but gets progressively worse.
Symptoms of leukemia include swollen gland in the neck, groin or under the arm, frequent nosebleeds, night sweats, fevers, unexplained weight loss and tiredness.
No cure is available for leukemia, but medications can prolong the life of those with the condition. Drug classes commonly prescribed to treat leukemia include: antirheumetics, antimetabolites antineoplastic agents, nitrogen mustard analogs, interferon alphas, protein kinase inhibitors, antineoplastic monoclonal antibodies, and purine analogs.