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How does Leukemia affect the body?

Most Americans have heard of the term leukemia, but may not be aware that leukemia is actually a form of cancer, cancer of blood cells to be specific. Leukemia can either be chronic, which worsens at a slower pace, or acute, which spreads and worsens quickly.

There are several types of leukemia depending upon which type of blood cell becomes cancerous. Lymphoblastic leukemia affects the lymphoblasts, which are the white blood cells in the body that fight infection and is most common. Cancer may also strike red blood cells, which are used to transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the body and platelets, which are the cells whose job it is to clot the blood.

Leukemia tends to affect both the younger and older population. It occurs most often in adults over 55 years of age, and also is the most common form of cancer for young adults under the age of 15. The most vulnerable blood cells are immature blood cells, which are mostly formed in bone marrow. When leukemia strikes, the cancerous blood cells take over the healthy blood cells in the marrow.

Leukemia and all forms of cancer are included in the Social Security Administration's list of diseases that qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for Illness. In order to qualify, a victim must prove that his or her condition is preventing them from seeking gainful employment and that the condition has lasted a year or is expected to end in death. The application process is not easy, and may appear to be especially daunting for victims already fighting with the disease. One may want to consider seeking advice from a law professional for help during the application process.

Source: National Cancer Institute, "Leukemia - Patient Version," Accessed Jan. 31, 2017

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