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Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Leukemia cells are sick immune blood cells that do not work properly and crowd out healthy blood cells. Leukemias are the most common childhood cancers. Types of leukemia include acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Bone marrow is a factory where our blood is made deep inside our bones. It makes red blood cells (which carry oxygen and nutrients through the body), white blood cells (which fight germs and infections) and platelets (which help stop bleeding).
Leukemia starts in the bone marrow, the spongy internal part of bones where new blood is made. Leukemia starts when a single, young, white blood cell called a "blast" develops a series of mistakes or mutations that allow it to multiply uncontrollably. Eventually, blasts take over the bone marrow and crowd out normal blood cells. One blast soon generates billions of other blasts, with a total of about a trillion (one million times one million) leukemia cells typically present in the body at the time of diagnosis.