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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Also called: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ALL

Summary

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

Start Here

  • (National Marrow Donor Program)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
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Diagnosis and Tests

  • BCR ABL Genetic Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in
  • (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (American Cancer Society) Also in

Treatments and Therapies

  • (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation: MedlinePlus Health Topic From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) Also in
  • (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Related Issues

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society) Also in

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) Also in

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Patient Handouts