About

Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)


About Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children. It is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that progresses quickly, and if left untreated, can become fatal within a few months.


Cancer is when cells begin to grow out of control. In ALL, the cancer cells develop from immature white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. The cancerous cells then invade the body quickly and can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system, and testicles.

Lymphomas are another type of cancer that affects lymphocytes. The difference between leukemias and lymphomas is that leukemia starts in the bone marrow and blood, whereas lymphoma originates in the lymph nodes or other organs. Both types of cancer can spread to places in which the other cancer originates. At first, it may be difficult to tell whether the cancer is considered leukemia or lymphoma. If the bone marrow consists of 20% cancerous lymphocytes, the disease is considered leukemia.

ALL is more common in children than in adults with the highest risk in children under 5 years of age. The risk declines with age and then rises again after the age of 50. Overall, about 60 percent of ALL cases are in children.

This type of cancer is not considered common. The risk is higher in males than in females and higher in Caucasians than in African Americans.

While ALL is more common in children than in adults, the number of deaths caused by ALL is higher in adults than in children. This may be because children are better able to handle aggressive treatment than adults.

There are many different signs and symptoms that may arise from ALL. Most of the symptoms are due to shortages in red blood cells, which happen when cancerous cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing normal blood-forming cells from doing their job properly.

The most common signs and symptoms of ALL are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding: nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or heavy menstrual bleeding in women
  • Swollen lymph nodes (in and around the neck, underarm, abdomen, or groin)
  • Fever
  • Bone pain
  • Loss of appetite

The World Health Organization (WHO) divides acute lymphoblastic leukemia into 3 subtypes:

  • Pre (precursor) B cell ALL, most commonly found in adults
  • Pre (precursor) T cell ALL, more likely to affect young adults and more common in men
  • Mature B cell ALL, identified by certain genetic changes

The type of ALL that a person has will help doctors build specific treatment plans and predict how well treatment will work.


What is ALL?

Cancer is when cells begin to grow out of control. In ALL, the cancer cells develop from immature white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. The cancerous cells then invade the body quickly and can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system, and testicles.

Lymphomas are another type of cancer that affects lymphocytes. The difference between leukemias and lymphomas is that leukemia starts in the bone marrow and blood, whereas lymphoma originates in the lymph nodes or other organs. Both types of cancer can spread to places in which the other cancer originates. At first, it may be difficult to tell whether the cancer is considered leukemia or lymphoma. If the bone marrow consists of 20% cancerous lymphocytes, the disease is considered leukemia.

 

ALL Risk Factors

ALL is more common in children than in adults with the highest risk in children under 5 years of age. The risk declines with age and then rises again after the age of 50. Overall, about 60 percent of ALL cases are in children.

This type of cancer is not considered common. The risk is higher in males than in females and higher in Caucasians than in African Americans.

While ALL is more common in children than in adults, the number of deaths caused by ALL is higher in adults than in children. This may be because children are better able to handle aggressive treatment than adults.

 

ALL Symptoms

There are many different signs and symptoms that may arise from ALL. Most of the symptoms are due to shortages in red blood cells, which happen when cancerous cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing normal blood-forming cells from doing their job properly.

The most common signs and symptoms of ALL are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding: nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or heavy menstrual bleeding in women
  • Swollen lymph nodes (in and around the neck, underarm, abdomen, or groin)
  • Fever
  • Bone pain
  • Loss of appetite

 

Types of ALL

The World Health Organization (WHO) divides acute lymphoblastic leukemia into 3 subtypes:

  • Pre (precursor) B cell ALL, most commonly found in adults
  • Pre (precursor) T cell ALL, more likely to affect young adults and more common in men
  • Mature B cell ALL, identified by certain genetic changes

The type of ALL that a person has will help doctors build specific treatment plans and predict how well treatment will work.

 

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