Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

What is ALL?

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) (also known as acute lymphocytic leukemia) is a cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help the body fight infection, and there are two types of white blood cells: lymphoid and myeloid. ALL affects the lymphoid cells and is the most common childhood cancer, accounting for 23% of cancer diagnoses among children under age 15.

Leukemia cells are abnormal, immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infection.

Risk Factors

Very little is known about the causes of ALL. Current research shows that ALL occurs slightly more often in boys than in girls, and in white children more often than in African-American children. Prenatal exposure to x-rays and specific genetic syndromes (such as Down’s syndrome) may also play a role.

Common Symptoms

Due to the leukemia cells that cannot fight infection and tend to collect in various places within the body, as well as the fact that many children with ALL have low amounts of healthy red blood cells and platelets (causing anemia), children with ALL may experience a variety of symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes, liver, or spleen
  • Paleness
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Tiny red spots (petechiae) under the skin
  • Bone or joint pain

If your child has any symptoms like these, he/she should be examined by their doctor.

Diagnosing ALL

If a child is experiencing symptoms, a doctor will first complete a physical exam. Following the exam, the doctor may prescribe blood tests. The sample will be examined to determine the number of normal blood cells, and to look for the presence of leukemia cells. To then confirm the diagnosis, a cancer specialist will perform a bone marrow aspiration in order to view cells being produced by the bone marrow.

Treatment Options

Once the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, your child's doctor will work with you and your child to determine the best treatment plan. Your child's treatment plan will be determined by the stage of the disease, as well as your child's age and general health.

Information about Chemotherapy.

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Pediatric Hematology/

Golisano Children's Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14642
Phone: (585) 275-2981
Fax: (585) 273-1039

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