Leukemia is cancer that starts in the cells that form blood. Based on the type of blood cell where it starts, leukemia is either lymphocytic or myeloid. 


Leukemia is categorized by how quickly, or slowly, it grows.

Chronic leukemia: Chronic leukemia grows more slowly than acute. Early in the disease, the leukemia cells can still do some of the work of normal white blood cells which means there are very few symptoms. In fact, chronic leukemia is often found during a routine checkup with blood work. When symptoms do appear, they are usually mild at first and get worse gradually.

Acute leukemia: The leukemia cells can’t do any of the work of normal white blood cells. The number of leukemia cells increases rapidly which causes symptoms to appear. Acute leukemia usually worsens quickly.

What Are the Stages of Leukemia?

Like other types of cancer, staging is done to help the cancer care team understand the extent of the cancer including the number of lymph nodes that are affected, if any. There are several different staging systems for leukemia depending on the type. Your leukemia specialist will discuss your stage and how that affects your treatment plan.

Who Treats Leukemia?

If an abnormal CBC blood test result comes back, your primary care physician is likely to recommend you consult with a blood specialist called a hematologist, a blood specialist. There are several reasons why white blood cells could be high, or the red blood cell count is low. The hematologist will run additional tests to find the cause. If it is leukemia, the hematologist will most likely also oversee the cancer treatment process since hematologists are also oncologists. 

New York Oncology Hematology’s team of hematologists/oncologists is available to consult with you. Request an appointment at one of our locations in the greater Albany area.

More About Leukemia

Our cancer treatment services are delivered in a non-hospital setting at locations in the AlbanyAmsterdamHudsonTroy, and Saratoga areas. Each cancer center is designed for your convenience with free parking and ground floor access for easy patient pickup and drop-off.


Types of Leukemia

There are several subtypes of leukemia based on the type of cell and how aggressively it’s growing. The four most common are:

  • CLL - Chronic lymphocytic leu​​kemia
  • ALL - Acute lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia 
  • CML - Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • AML - Acute myeloid leukemia

How is Leukemia Diagnosed?

Since there is no standard screening process for detecting early-stage leukemia, it is important to see your doctor regularly for a checkup. A Complete Blood Count (CBC) test is often part of a standard physical. If the results show there is an abnormally high number of white blood cells or a very low red blood cell count, more testing will likely be done. 


Leukemia Treatment Options

There are specific treatments known to work well with various types of leukemia. And, in the case of some slower growing leukemias, you may be able to wait before starting treatment. The hematologist/oncologist will review the results of the tests to determine the type and stage and from there recommend a treatment plan. Clinical research trials may also be available, bringing patients the latest in leukemia treatments to the Albany area.