Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Also called: ALL, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many of specific types of white blood cells called lymphocytes or lymphoblasts. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children.

Possible risk factors for ALL include being male, being white, previous chemotherapy treatment, exposure to radiation, and for adults, being older than 70.

Symptoms of ALL include:

  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Bleeding under the skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Pain in the bones or stomach
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs
  • Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin

Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose ALL. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following features are indicative of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • fever
  • bleeding
  • petechiae
  • bone or joint pain
  • weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling of fullness below the ribs

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Common Causes of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following are the most common causes of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • exposure to radiation and chemicals

Risk Factors for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • prior treatment with chemotherapy
  • being exposed to radiation
  • being exposed to x-rays before birth
  • genetic conditions

Prevention of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid smoking
  • avoid exposure to hair dyes
  • avoid exposure to electromagnetic fields

Occurrence of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very rare between 1K - 10K cases

Common Age Group

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 1-5 years

Common Gender

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • Complete blood count: To measure the number of the blood cells
  • Peripheral blood smear: To determine the changes in the numbers and the appearance of the blood cells
  • Blood chemistry test: To measure the amount of certain chemicals in the blood
  • Blood coagulation tests: To determine the blood clotting
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: To remove a sample of the liquid portion of bone marrow
  • Bone marrow biopsy: To expel a small, solid piece of bone marrow
  • Cytochemistry: To determine the biochemical content of cells
  • Flow cytometry: To diagnose the immunophenotyping
  • Immunohistochemistry: To determine the exact type of leukemia present
  • Chromosome testing: To know about chromosome changes
  • Polymerase chain reaction: To determine certain gene changes
  • Lumbar puncture: To treat the spread of leukemia to the spinal cord and brain
  • Lymph node biopsy: To diagnose lymphomas by expelling a lymph node or part of a lymph node
  • Chest X-rays: To diagnose the enlarged lymph nodes in the chest
  • Computed tomography scan: to determine the enlarged lymph nodes or organs in the body
  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan: To diagnose the infections or other problems
  • Gallium scan and bone scan: To diagnose the bone pain
  • Ultrasound: to determine the enlarged organs inside your abdomen

Doctor for Diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • Hematologist
  • Oncologist

Complications of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia if untreated

Yes, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is left untreated:
  • infections
  • anemia

Procedures for Treatment of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following procedures are used to treat Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • Chemotherapy: To destroy leukaemic cells
  • Radiation therapy: To prevent the recurrence of leukemia in the brain
  • Stem cell transplant: To destroy any leukemia-producing bone marrow

Self-care for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • Avoid radiation exposure: Avoid exposure to high levels of radiation
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid chemical exposure: Avoid exposure to certain chemotherapy drugs and certain chemicals including benzene

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia:
  • Acupuncture: To treat pain and balancing the flow of energy
  • Aromatherapy: To enhance psychological and physical well-being
  • Massage: Relax muscles and alleviate body pain
  • Meditation: To ease the side effects of cancer treatment
  • Relaxation exercises: To reduce stress

Patient Support for Treatment of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

The following actions may help Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia patients:
  • Education: By knowing about leukemia and researching information in local library and on the internet
  • Explore programs for children with cancer: By participating in cancer related health care programs in your area

Time for Treatment of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Childhood Leukemia
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

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