NCLEX Memory Hints: Leukemia

NCLEX Memory Hints: Leukemia

Leukemia is a group of blood cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow and results in overproduction of immature white blood cells. Symptoms may include bleeding and bruising, bone pain, fatigue, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and an increased risk of infections. Diagnosis is typically made by blood tests and confirmed by bone marrow biopsy. Lab values include a high white blood cell count, but they are immature. Red blood cells and platelets are reduced by the cancerous process. Blast cells will be seen on diagnosis and if an acute crisis has occurred during or after treatment.

Leukemia is the most cause of cancer in children and teens and can be acute or chronic. Both chronic types of leukemia are seen more in adults. It will be lymphocytic or myelocytic.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)

 ALL is seen primarily in kids (“The little guys”) and accounts for 80% of childhood leukemia. Treatment is with chemotherapy. Remission can occur with aggressive treatment.

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)

AML is seen in “The Men”. It is seen primarily in adults and men have a higher predisposition than women. Remission can occur with aggressive treatment.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

Those with CML are “Made for Heaven” and most develop resistance to treatment. They often have splenomegaly, and it can become very large and tender and usually needs to be removed. Philadelphia chromosome is present in most cases.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

CLL patients often “Live Longer”.  They can live 10 years and may not need any treatment if they are asymptomatic.


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