Does Leukemia in Adulthood Differ From Childhood?

Leukemia, a kind of cancer that attacks the bone marrow and blood, is something that both adults and children can develop. However, there are differences between leukemia in adulthood and leukemia in childhood, and knowing the differences could help you if you or a family member have this disease. The more you know, the more able you will be to deal with what needs to happen next. With that in mind, read on to find out more. 

Types Of Leukemia 

In general, leukemia can be grouped into four main types. These are:

• Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

• Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

• Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Although anyone of any age can develop any of these types of leukemia, ALL and AML are more common in children, while CLL and CML are more common in adults. 

Who Is Affected? 

The good thing to note about leukemia in children is that it is quite rare, although it is still the most common form of cancer that children will develop. In most cases, it is diagnosed between the ages of two and five. 

When it comes to adults, it is older adults who are most likely to be diagnosed with leukemia, and as they get older, the risk of this disease gets worse. This could be due to the fact that there are external influences that can cause leukemia, such as chemicals and habits like smoking – the older an adult is, the more chance they have of being exposed to these things. 

seidman cancer center building at daytime
Photo by Jonathan Meyer on

Signs And Symptoms 

Interestingly, the signs and symptoms of leukemia in childhood and adulthood are a little different, and it’s crucial to know what to look out for so that if something doesn’t seem right, you can get medical assistance as soon as possible – the earlier you can get help, the easier leukemia is to treat.

There are some definite signs to watch out for in children when it comes to leukemia, including fatigue, pale skin, fever, and frequent infections. For adults, it is a little trickier to be certain. Symptoms of leukemia in adults are usually much more vague but can include weight loss, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes. It might also be that an adult’s spleen or liver is enlarged because of leukemia cells spreading. 


There are a number of things doctors can do to diagnose leukemia, including blood tests, bone marrow aspiration, and taking biopsies. They can also carry out genetic testing because leukemia is often associated with various genetic abnormalities. 

The way that doctors will diagnose both adults and children is very similar, but there are a few differences, mainly when it comes to the genetic testing, as different age groups will be more prone to different mutations, so they will need different tests. 


The treatment plan for each individual with leukemia will be specifically tailored to them and will include factors such as the type of leukemia they have and their lifestyle. However, children will usually need to undergo intense chemotherapy sessions, which include taking a high dose of methotrexate, as well as radiation therapy

Adults may well be offered a less aggressive form of chemotherapy as this will mean there are fewer side effects,and, for those with other responsibilities, such as work and families, this can be a better way to move forward.

This is a contributed post

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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