What is Acute Leukaemia?

Yesterday the news broke that professional footballer Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia. The Aston Villa captain complained that he felt very unwell after a league match against Arsenal last weekend.

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood which occurs when the bone marrow produces a large number of abnormal cells. In the blood there are three types of cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen, platelets help to clot the blood and white blood cells help fight infection. Billions of new cells are produced in the marrow daily, most of which are red blood cells. When the marrow starts to produce too many white leukaemic blood cells they interfere with the healthy blood cells making those diagnosed highly susceptible to infections, bleeding because the blood can’t clot and bruising.

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