What is acute lymphocytic leukemia?
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.
Normally, the lymphocytes fight infection. But, in ALL, the cells are immature and overabundant. They crowd out other blood cells, and may collect in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph tissue.
Acute leukemia can occur over a short period of days to weeks. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of all patients.
ALL is more common in children than adults, with most children between the ages of two and four when the cancer is found. According to the American Cancer Society, of the 44,790 leukemia cases expected in 2009, ALL will account for 5,760 of the acute cases. The average person has about a one in 1,000 chance of developing ALL.
What are the symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia?
The following are the most common symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- persistent weakness
- aches in bones and joints
- swollen lymph nodes
The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia:
Specific treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference