Leukaemia is simply the cancer of the white blood cells. These cells are produced in the bone marrow. In Leukaemia patients, white cells which are abnormal, are produced in excess. As a result, other healthy cells are crowded out.

Leukaemia in the world

In 2012, over 352000 people were diagnosed with Leukaemia in the world, and 82300 and in Europe.

In the UK, 8600 cases of Leukaemia were reported in 2011.

In the UK, for every 100000 black males, 14 are likely to develop Leukaemia in their life time and 10 for every 100000 Asian males.

For Black and Asian females, about 8 out of every 100000 are likely to develop some form of Leukaemia in their life time.

Leukaemia in Kenya

The actual number of Leukaemia cases in Kenya is not known. This is due to difficulties of under-reporting of cases, lack of a well-defined health-care delivery information system, that provides easy access of data on Leukaemia patients and inadequate resources to effectively collect data from all registered sources.

However, the Nairobi Cancer registry (NCR), provides statistics of what could be a tip of the iceberg. Between 2000 – 2002 in Nairobi, Leukaemia was the 13th most common cancer in adult accounting for 5.7% of all cancer diagnosed in Nairobi. In children under the age of 10, Leukaemia was the 2nd most common cancer accounting for approximately 34.3% of all cancers.


Leukaemia is named according to the type of blood cell affected and how long it takes before the patient starts experiencing symptoms.

Acute leukaemia comes on suddenly, often within days or weeks, progressing quickly and need to be treated urgently.

Chronic leukaemia develop more slowly, often over many months or years.

The type of Leukaemia also depends on the blood cells affected. Normally, the bone marrow produces immature cells known as stem cells that mature into different types of blood cells over time. A stem cell may either become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell.

A lymphoid stem cell mature to become white blood cell whereas a myeloid stem cell matures to become either a red blood cell, a white blood cell or a platelet.

Red blood cells mainly carry oxygen around the body.

White blood cells fight infection.

Platelets stop bleeding by forming a blood clots.

The four common types of Leukaemia based on the classification above include:

Chronic myeloid (CML); Approximately 600 people in the UK are diagnosed with CML each year. It can occur at any age but is more common in middle-aged and older people. It’s rare in children.For more information on CML please click the link Here.
Acute myeloid (AML); It can affect people at any age but is more common in people over 65. Around 2,500 people are diagnosed with AML each year in the UK. For more information on AML please click the link Here.
Chronic lymphocytic (CLL); Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukaemia. About 2,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with it each year. CLL usually develops very slowly and many people don’t need treatment for months or years. However, some people need to have treatment straight away.For more information on CLL please click the link Here.
Acute lymphoblastic (ALL). ALL occurs most frequently in children under 15; in adults it is most common between the ages of 15-25 and in people over 75. It’s slightly more common in males than in females.For more information on ALL please click the link Here.

Other types of leukaemia

Adult T-cell leukaemia lymphoma (ATL); is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, linked to human T-cell leukaemia/lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). The three major routes of HTLV-1 transmission are mother-to-child infections via breast milk, sexual intercourse, and blood transfusions.

For more information on ATL please click the link Here.

Hairy Cell

For more information on Hairy Cell please click the link http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Leukaemia/Hairycellleukaemia.aspx.


The treatment and prognosis for Leukaemia depend on the type of blood cell affected and whether the leukaemia is acute or chronic.
Conventionally, Leukaemia is treated with chemotherapy alone or in combination with radiotherapy. Quite often, this offers a temporary solution.

For most patients, Bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant offers a permanent solution.
Other conditions treated using Bone marrow transplant includes neuroblastoma (cancer that arises in immature nerve cells and affects mostly infants and children) and multiple myeloma and lymphomas.

For more information on Leukaemia, please visit Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is a leading UK charity

Registered charity in England and Wales No. 1175159

Find Us:
233 Canterbury Road, Modern, Surrey. London. SM4 6QB.