What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children: Overview

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is cancer of the blood cells. It is the most common cancer in children. Newer treatments are helping children to live longer.

In ALL, the body starts making abnormal white blood cells that can crowd out the healthy blood cells. This makes a child more likely to bleed, get infections, and not have enough red blood cells (anemia).

Treating this type of leukemia may take several years. It usually involves medicines, such as chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation, a stem cell transplant, or gene therapy may be needed. Your child may have side effects from treatment, such as nausea and tiredness. Your child's care team will work with you to help your child feel better and to prevent infections.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that causes the body to make too many white blood cells (lymphocytes). But these lymphocytes, called leukemia cells, cannot fight infection very well.

When leukemia cells build up in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy blood cells. This can cause infections, anemia, and easy bleeding.

ALL usually gets worse quickly. It is sometimes referred to as acute lymphocytic leukemia.

What are the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?

If you or your child has ALL, you may feel weak, tired, or have a fever. Or you may be pale or have a headache. Other symptoms in children and adults include bruising, bleeding easily, and bone pain.

How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults treated?

Most treatment plans for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) include three steps. Induction therapy kills leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. It includes chemotherapy and corticosteroids. Consolidation therapy kills any leukemia cells that might remain after induction. Maintenance therapy helps prevent relapse.

How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosed?

The doctor will do a physical exam and blood tests. A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy also will likely be done. If the results point to leukemia, the doctor may do more tests on the blood or bone marrow samples to learn more about the type or subtype of leukemia.

How can you care for your child who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?

Cancer treatment can be hard. So it's important to let your child feel like a kid. Allow plenty of time for rest and play. Serve food that has protein and calories to keep up your child's strength and weight. Offer plenty of fluids. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed.

What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of leukemia that causes the body to make too many lymphoblasts. These are a type of young white blood cell. In ALL, these cells don't mature correctly, becoming leukemia cells. They grow out of control in the bone marrow, crowding out the normal blood-making cells.

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