Leukemia is caused by the mutation of the bone marrow pluripotent or most primitive stem cells. This neoplas-tic expansion results in abnormal, leukemic cells and impaired production of normal red blood cells, neu-trophils, and platelets. As the mutant cell line takes hold and normal hematopoiesis is inhibited, the leukemic cells spill into the peripheral blood and invade the retic-uloendothelial tissue, specifically the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, and, at times, central nervous system. The leukemic stem cells have atypical growth and maturation capability. The mutant clone may demonstrate unique morphologic, cytogenetic, and immunopheno-typic features that can be used to aid in the classification of the particular type of leukemia. Many of the leukemias have similar clinical features, but regardless of the subtype, the disease is fatal if left untreated.
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