Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemias (ALL)


Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. It is also known as acute lymphocytic leukaemia or acute childhood leukaemia. It usually affects children, but can also occur in adults.

ALL starts in the bone marrow, the soft inner part of some bones, where blood cells are made. In ALL, the bone marrow produces too many immature white blood cells, called lymphoblasts. These cells cannot fight infection and crowd out the normal, healthy cells in the bone marrow.

The exact cause of ALL is unknown. Some risk factors for developing ALL include exposure to radiation, certain viral infections, or a genetic mutation. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, with an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people in the United States being diagnosed with the disease each year.

Symptoms of ALL

Symptoms of ALL vary depending on the severity of the disease but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpits
  • Pain or fullness in the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for ALL typically involves chemotherapy, in which drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be used to target specific areas of the body, and bone marrow transplantation may be an option for patients with more severe cases. Clinical trials of new medications may also be available.

It is important to seek medical attention if you or your child experience any of the symptoms of ALL. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in the outcome of the disease.