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Leukaemia Notes

Pharmacology Notes > Haematology (BIOL21361) Notes

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Topic 4 - Leukaemia
Normal Lymphocyte Cycle
 Phase 1: Bone Marrow Phase - This is the very earliest stage that lymphoid cells develop, in the bone marrow.

Phase 2: The Lymph Gland - Lymphocytes now rest until they meet antigens, and those that meet antigens then proliferate in the lymph glands and eventually form effector cells.

Phase 3: Mature Cells - Cells that have met antigens mature into either cytotoxic T-cells, plasma cells or memory cells.

Malignancy in the Bone Marrow Phase - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

The very earliest lymphoid cells develop in the bone marrow, and as large numbers are needed these cells are highly proliferative and tend to remain in the bone marrow.

Malignancy arising at this stage is also highly proliferative and resides in the bone marrow and it is known as
Acute Lymphoblastic Anaemia.

The main symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia are caused through the suppression of normal cell growth by the rapidly growing malignant cells (Low Red Cells, White Cells and Platelets), as well as other symptoms that relate to its rapid growth (Bone pain, accumulation of cells). The bone marrow then becomes packed with abnormal cells, until it moves into the blood.

Malignancy in the Lymph Node Phase

Once the Lymphocyte meets its antigen they enter the lymph glands where they proliferate.

Malignancy arising at this stage is very variable and can be slow or fast growing but they remain in the node tissues as a Lymphoma.

Lymphoma - Lymphomas share similar properties and cause lymph gland enlargement and tend not to circulate in the blood. These have variable features, with a highly variable growth rate and these can cause alternative node growths (such as Large Cell Lymphoma, Mantle Cell Lymphoma, etc).

Malignancy in the Mature Cell Phase

The mature cells are those which perform functions throughout the body, these cells have different characteristics to support their functions, and dependent on their function, these may occupy different sites within the body.


Tumours at this stage vary greatly, but together are known as Lymphoproliferative disorders.
These cells can result in various diseases, that results in Excess antibody production and the production of
Cytokines by the plasma cell, resulting in the breakdown of bone.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia is the most common leukaemia in the western world and is an area of huge progress in cancer treatment.
The cells resemble 'Memory B Cells' and the behaviour of the disease and the approach too therapy is dependent on this resemblance.

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