Overview

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ALL is the type of cancer that is found in the blood and the bone marrow. In acute lymphocytic leukemia the diseases affects the white blood cells named lymphocytes. It progresses rapidly and therefore forms immature blood cells than the mature ones. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children and has a very high chance of cure if treatment has been performed. It can also occur in adults, but even with treatment the chance of cure is greatly reduced.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may include:

  • Bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes in and around the neck, armpits, abdomen or groin
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness and fatigue

Causes

When is there a change in the DNA (genetic material) of the bone marrow that is when acute lymphocytic leukemia occurs. The DNA is what tells the cell what to do and instructs it when to grow as well as to die. But in acute lymphocytic leukemia that doesn’t happen and therefore the mutations cause the bone marrow to continue growing and dividing. As this happens, there is a problem further with the blood cell production and the bone marrow will produce immature cells and those will in turn develop into leukemic blood cells (lymphoblasts). Then all of these abnormal cells that have been generated are unable to properly function and they also crowd out the healthy cells.

Risk factors

There are however some factors that may increase the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia which include:

  • Previous treatment with chemotherapy with a specific type
  • People exposed to very high levels of radiation
  • Patients with genetic disorder, especially those with Down syndrome have a higher chance of obtaining ALL.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia