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Understanding your risk

Like other cancers, your risk depends on many variables, including:

  • Contracting HPV (Human papillomavirus)
  • Family history
  • Lifestyle behavior (e.g. smoking , diet and exercise)
  • Overall health
  • Age (most common in those over the age of 55, or for children under 15)

Optum’s oncology team  offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.

Symptoms

Leukemia is a disease that shows no obvious symptoms, especially early on. In most cases, patients who are diagnosed with leukemia find indicators during physical exams or routine blood testing. Some patients who do exhibit symptoms often have:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pale skin
  • Swollen gums
  • Chronic fatigue

Diagnosing leukemia

Diagnosing leukemia is a multi-step process because there are several types of the disease. Here are the two main tests that patients are given if leukemia is suspected.

  • Blood test: The blood will be tested for an abnormal white cell count, which can be an indication of leukemia.
  • Biopsy: During a biopsy, bone marrow from the pelvic bone is removed and tested to confirm that leukemia has developed. The type of leukemia is also determined.

Types of leukemia

Leukemia is categorized as  acute or chronic. Acute leukemia is fast growing and tends to get worse quickly. Chronic leukemia develops at a much slower rate.

Types
Description
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
This aggressive type affects lymphoid cells, which are white blood cells that provide immune response. It is also the most common form of leukemia found in children.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
This aggressive form of leukemia encourages the development of too many immature white cells, and typically results in too few red cells being produced.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
This form is a slow growing cancer of the lymphoid cells. It typically affects those who are 55 years of age or older, and is rarely found in children.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
This form is similar to acute myeloid leukemia, but is much slower to develop.

Treatment

The treatment options for leukemia depend on the stage of the disease. Some of the most common treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy: chemicals administered in pill or IV form to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons, that are used to  kill and slow the growth of cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells or by directing your immune system to kill cancer cells.

Medical care and help

To find a leukemia specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Click here to learn more about Optum’s minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery options.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Medical Care and Help

To find a breast cancer specialist near you, visit our providers page.
Contact Us if you have any questions