Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer and the most common type of childhood cancer.

Leukaemia in children usually forms in the white blood cells found in the bone marrow and blood. White blood cells help fight infection.

What is leukaemia?

There are different types of childhood leukaemia, named ‘acute’ if they are fast growing or ‘chronic’ if they are slow growing.

Childhood leukaemias also differ by which type of the blood cell they affect. There are two different groups of white blood cell – lymphoid cells (also known as lymphocytes) and myeloid cells. Normally these cells repair and reproduce themselves in an orderly and controlled way. In leukaemia, however, the process gets out of control and the cells continue to divide but do not mature.

The three most common types of childhood leukaemia are:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • Acute myeloid leukaemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is an overproduction of immature lymphoid cells, called lymphoblasts. ALL is the only form of leukaemia that is more common in children than in adults.

Sophia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was just two years old. Watch the video to find out more about Sophia, including her battle with the side effects of treatment.

Learn about leg pain in children cancer through Benji’s story and how he was diagnosed with ALL at the age of 3.

Learn more about acute lymphoblastic leukaemia


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Acute myeloid leukaemia

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an overproduction of immature myeloid cells, called myeloblasts. Around 76 of new cases of childhood AML are diagnosed every year in the UK, which accounts for 15% of children’s leukaemia cancer cases.

We need to find new treatments for acute myeloid leukaemia, particularly for children whose disease comes back.

Dr Rogosic.

We’re funding Dr Rogosic to develop a new treatment for AML which could give these children a better chance of survival from this aggressive form of cancer.

Learn about acute myeloid leukaemia

Chronic myeloid leukaemia

Most childhood leukaemias are ‘acute’ meaning that they develop and progress rapidly. CML is a chronic leukaemia – meaning it develops slowly, often over many years. CML is rare in children, with around 5 cases per year in the UK. In addition, there are around 28 cases in teenagers and young adults each year.

Andy was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia at the age of 18.

This came as an enormous shock to me and the family. We had only just come to terms with the news that my Mum had terminal bowel cancer and I was just a week away from going to university.


Read about chronic myeloid leukaemia
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