What is it?

Acute leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that develops quickly. If you have acute leukaemia, your body makes too many immature white blood cells. Unlike healthy white blood cells, immature white blood cells are not able to fight infections.

White blood cells are found in the bone marrow, which is the soft, spongy material in the centre of most bones. The bone marrow also makes red blood cells and platelets (colourless cells that help your blood to clot and stop bleeding after an injury).

With too many immature white blood cells crowding the bone marrow, the body can’t produce healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This can cause infections, bleeding problems, pain, swelling and other health issues. These immature white blood cells can get into the bloodstream and spread around the body.

Acute leukaemia progresses quickly. After you are diagnosed, you may need to begin treatment straight away. There are different stages of acute leukaemia. Your treatment will depend on the type and seriousness of the cancer as well as your health status. If treated early, acute leukaemia can often be controlled and symptoms can be managed.