Cytogenic Studies for Leukemia Diagnosis

This information is useful for children and adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We have a cytogenetics lab that can return blood sample resulst within 24 hours.
  • An interdisciplinary team of hematologists, pathologists, and specialty doctors work to create the best treatment plan for each patient.
  • We use the latest molecular and genetics testing in order to determine the very specific type of cancer present.

Leukemia is a blood cancer that affects white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infection in the body. When a person develops leukemia, these white blood cells, which are in the bone marrow, grow abnormally and crowd out healthy cells, interfering with the blood cells' work.

Diagnosing leukemia in its earliest stages can improve a patient’s prognosis, so it is important to be tested as soon as possible if leukemia is suspected. In this age of precision medicine, advancements in molecular cytogenetics have enabled doctors to determine the best treatment for the patient. "We are now on the forefront of medicine, when some of these cytogenetic findings make patients eligible for clinical trials that Yale Medicine is offering,” says Dr. Alexa Siddon, assistant professor of pathology at Yale School of Medicine. 

There are multiple types of leukemia, which include:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia

Adults can get any type, but children tend to get acute leukemia. “Acute leukemia is made of blasts, immature cells, while chronic leukemia is made of more mature cells,” says Alexa Siddon, MD, assistant professor of pathology at Yale School of Medicine. “Chronic leukemias tend to proliferate slower than acute leukemias, just because the blasts multiply very quickly. People with acute leukemia will become symptomatic more rapidly, in general.”

Leukemia that affects lymphoid cells, which would develop into lymphocytes (a form of white blood cell), is called lymphoid, lymphoblastic or lymphocytic leukemia.

Leukemia that affects myeloid cells, which would normally develop into red blood cells, platelets or granulocytes (a specific type of white blood cell), is called myeloid leukemia. Myeloid leukemia may also be called myelogenous or myeloblastic leukemia.

The prognosis depends on the type of leukemia and other risk factors, such as family and personal medical history.