Leukaemia’s Effect on Blood Cells

Updated at: Mar 18, 2016
Leukaemia’s Effect on Blood Cells

Leukaemia has a strong effect on blood cells. It affects the shape, size and functioning of the blood cells.

Aparna Mir
CancerWritten by: Aparna MirPublished at: Apr 13, 2012

Leukaemias Effect on Blood Cells

Leukaemia is a blood disease in which the production of white blood cells exceeds the normal level, thereby resulting in tumour formation. Leukaemia affects the new blood cells and the cells of bone marrow.

  • Leukaemia causes mutation in the cells of bone marrow. This results in overproduction of white blood cells.
  • Overproduction of white blood cells hampers the body’s immune system. The body’s immune system starts engulfing its own healthy cells. 
  • The body becomes sensitive to develop infections. The body’s ability to produce antibodies against any foreign pathogen reduces.
  • As the production of WBC increases in the bone marrow, there is no space left for other blood cells. Hence, there is a great reduction in red blood cell count and platelet count.
  • In leukaemia RBC count decreases, thereby decreasing the oxygen carrying cells. So there is an insufficient supply of oxygen to the various organs of the body which hampers their normal functioning.
  • Blood gets thinner in leukaemia due to low production of RBC.
  • Overproduction of lymphocytes during leukaemia can result in abnormal number of cells that appear hairy under microscope. Therefore, it is sometimes termed as hairy cell leukaemia.
  • In leukaemia platelet count decreases. This makes a person sensitive to bruising and bleeding.
  • Leukaemia also distorts the shape of blood cells. It can cause cell deformity or cell overlapping as a result of enhanced production of WBC.
  • Blood carry minerals and nutrients throughout the body. Deformation in the structure of blood cells affects the nutrition transport efficiency of the RBC. This in turn hampers the working of other body organs as they fail to receive essential nutrients for their proper functioning.
  • The blood clotting mechanism also gets affected due to leukaemia. In leukaemia, production of thromboplastin and thrombocytes reduces. Both these agents are responsible for causing blood to clot. Absence of these can cause profuse bleeding which can eventually lead to death. This condition is called haemophilia.
  • Lack or deformity in red blood cells affects the respiratory system. The person suffers from breathlessness and other respiratory problems.
  • Lack of red blood cells cause yellowing of the skin. Skin becomes pale and anaemic.
  • A high production of WBC causes swelling of lymph nodes and spleen. This in turn affects the production of RBC.
  • In leukaemia, the blood cells show a malignant growth, which in turn affects the functioning of the blood cells.


Read more articles on Understand Leukaemia.




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