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Acute Leukemias (Overview)

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Tanja Hinrichsen

Acute Leukemia is characterized by clonal proliferation and accumulation of malignant, immature cells of the haematopoiesis, also known as blasts, in the bone marrow, in the blood and possibly also in other organs. It is classified as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) based on the cell lineages. Acute leukemia occurs in all age groups. More than 90% of all affected children have ALL, while with a frequency of approximately 80%, AML and its subtypes occur more frequently in adults.

Since both diseases are clinically highly heterogeneous, there is an attempt to class the different types into biologic and prognostic subgroups. The classification is based on cytological/histological, cytochemical, immunological and cytogenetic and molecular genetic examinations. In 50-60% of all AML cases, chromosomal abnormalities can be found, mainly specific balanced translocations, which are used for the classification of the subgroups and for prognosis. For the classification of ALL, however, immunophenotyping plays an important role.