How come the stem cells produced by leukemia do not become specialized?

From what I've read, stem cells are cells that are unspecialized cells which have the capability to become specialized cells upon receiving stimulation to do so. So when leukemia produces an extreme amount of such cells, why is it they become cancerous rather than specialized? I have read that this rapid production hinders blood marrow's ability to produce red blood cells...but I am curious as to why these stem cells remain unspecialized.

3 Answers

  • .
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    With leukemia patients, most often the bone marrow is over producing mal formed or immature blood cells, not over producing more bone marrow.

    For example, I had a type called aml. With my type, what happened is that my marrow was over producing immature white blood cells (and not the stem cell type of white blood cell), and not really much of any other type of blood cell. So, my white blood cell count initially looked quite high. But on a differential to determine what types of white blood cells I had, everything was 0'ed out because they were all immature or mal formed.

    The marrow was spending so much time producing immature white blood cells that it did not have the time to produce red blood cells, or platelets, or the other components of blood.

    So, its not that the cells remain unspecialized, its that the cells never formed the right way or fully matured, and unable to function.

    Leukemia is also different from many cancers because there is not a solid tumor. The cancer cells are peripheral blood cells, so the cancer is essentially just circulating around in the blood. What caused the initial change to cause the bone marrow to produce cancer instead of reg blood cells is often genetic. In the typing of the disease there are certain genetic factors assessed, certain genetic mutations can be seen or looked for.

    What caused those genetic factors could be a laundry list. Chemo and radiation are high risks for leukemias. A lot of environmental concerns such as natural gas and its pollution. Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke.

    The carcinogens are so damaging that it has actually altered the "programming" of the person's bone marrow.

  • AJ
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I guess that the amount of cells produced is so huge that they dont have enough time to mature. and immature cells can not be specialized

    Source(s): QN!
  • Frank
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    If you figured that out, you would cure cancer and win the Nobel Prize.

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