Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

What is Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?

Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the white blood cells. It is an aggressive form of ALL, and is characterized by a lack of responsiveness to conventional chemotherapy and an increased risk of relapse.

ALL is a type of leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells. It is most common in children under the age of five. Normal cells in the bone marrow grow and mature into healthy white blood cells, which help fight off infections. In ALL, however, the bone marrow produces an abnormal type of white blood cell.

Signs and Symptoms of Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Refractory ALL can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Bruising and bleeding easily
  • Fever and chills
  • Infections that last a long time or keep coming back
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Risk Factors for Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

The exact cause of refractory ALL is unknown, but there are certain factors that can increase a person's risk for the disease. These include:

  • A family history of ALL or other blood disorders.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene or formaldehyde.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Genetic mutation (in some cases).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

In order to diagnose ALL, a doctor will perform a physical exam, ask about your medical history, and order laboratory tests. These tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), bone marrow biopsy, and imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI.

Treatment for ALL typically involves a combination of chemotherapy and other medications. In some cases, a stem cell transplant may also be used. For refractory ALL, additional, more aggressive therapy may be necessary.

Outlook for Refractory Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

The outlook for refractory ALL depends on a variety of factors, such as the patient's age and overall health, as well as the severity of the disease. Most patients with refractory ALL can be treated successfully, but it may take more aggressive and lengthy treatments.