Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow, which is the spongy tissue inside bones that produces blood cells.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The term “acute” in acute lymphocytic leukemia refers to the disease’s rapid progression and the production of immature blood cells rather than mature ones. The term “lymphocytic” refers to the white blood cells known as lymphocytes, which are affected by ALL. Acute lymphocytic leukemia can also be referred to as acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer, and treatments offer a good chance of cure. Adults can develop acute lymphocytic leukemia, but the chances of a cure are slim.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia can cause the following symptoms:
- The gums are bleeding.
- Fever and bone pain
- Infections that occur frequently
- Nosebleeds that are frequent or severe
- Swollen lymph nodes in and around the neck, armpits, abdomen, or groin cause lumps.
- Skin tone is light.
- Breathing difficulty
- Weakness, fatigue, or a general loss of energy
When should you see a doctor?
If you notice any persistent signs and symptoms that concern you, make an appointment with your doctor or your child’s doctor.
Many of the symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia are similar to those of the flu. However, flu symptoms and signs eventually improve. Make an appointment with your doctor if your signs and symptoms do not improve as expected.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia develops when a bone marrow cell’s genetic material, or DNA, undergoes changes (mutations). The DNA of a cell contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do. Normally, the DNA instructs the cell to grow at a specific rate and to die at a specific time. The mutations in acute lymphocytic leukemia instruct the bone marrow cell to continue growing and dividing.
When this happens, the production of blood cells spirals out of control. The bone marrow generates immature cells that mature into lymphoblasts, which are leukemic white blood cells. These abnormal cells are unable to function normally and can accumulate and crowd out healthy cells.
What causes the DNA mutations that can lead to acute lymphocytic leukemia is unknown.
The following factors may increase the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia:
Previous cancer therapy.
Certain types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for other types of cancer may increase the risk of developing acute lymphocytic leukemia in children and adults.
People exposed to very high levels of radiation, such as survivors of a nuclear reactor accident, have an increased risk of developing acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia is associated with certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome.
The following tests and procedures are used to diagnose acute lymphocytic leukemia:
Blood tests are performed.
Blood tests may reveal an abnormally high or low number of white blood cells, insufficient red blood cells, or insufficient platelets. A blood test may also reveal the presence of blast cells, which are immature cells found in bone marrow.
Bone marrow examination.
A needle is used to remove a sample of bone marrow from the hipbone or breastbone during bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. The sample is sent to a lab to be tested for leukemia cells.
Blood cells are classified into different types by doctors in the lab based on their size, shape, and other genetic or molecular characteristics. They also look for specific changes in the cancer cells to determine whether the leukemia cells originated from B or T lymphocytes. This data assists your doctor in developing a treatment plan.
X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds can detect brain, spinal cord, and other cancer spreads.
Spinal fluid analysis. A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, can collect spinal fluid from the brain and spinal cord. The sample is teste for spinal fluid cancer.
Calculating your prognosis:
These tests and procedures help your doctor diagnose and treat you. Other types of cancer use numerical stages to indicate how far the cancer has spread, but acute lymphocytic leukemia has no stages.
Instead, the gravity of your situation is determined by:
- B cells or T cells are the lymphocytes involved.
- The specific genetic changes found in your leukemia cells
- Your age
- Lab test results, such as the number of white blood cells detected in a blood sample Treatment
Acute lymphocytic leukemia treatment is divided into three stages:
The goal of the first phase of treatment is to kill the majority of leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow and to restore normal blood cell production.
This phase of treatment, also known as post-remission therapy, aims to eliminate any remaining leukemia in the body.
The third stage of treatment prevents leukemia cells from regrowing. At this stage, treatments are given in lower doses for years.
Spinal cord prevention therapy.
People with acute lymphocytic leukemia may receive additional treatment to kill leukemia cells in the central nervous system during each phase of therapy. This treatment injects chemotherapy drugs directly into spinal cord fluid.
Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia can last two to three years, depending on your situation.
Treatments may include:
Children and adults with acute lymphocytic leukemia receive chemotherapy as induction therapy. Consolidation and maintenance can use chemotherapy.
Targeted drug therapies target specific abnormalities found in cancer cells. Blocking abnormalities with targeted drugs kills cancer cells. Leukemia cells will undergo targeted therapy. Induction, consolidation, and maintenance chemotherapy can be combined with targeted therapy.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by using high-powered beams such as X-rays or protons. If the cancer cells have spread to the central nervous system, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy.
Bone marrow transplant.
A stem cell or bone marrow transplant can be used for consolidation or relapse. This procedure allows a person with leukemia to reestablish healthy bone marrow by replacing leukemic bone marrow with leukemia-free marrow from a healthy person.
A bone marrow transplant begins with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation to destroy any leukemia-producing bone marrow. Replacement marrow comes from a compatible donor (allogeneic transplant).
Engineering immune cells to combat leukemia.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy is a specialized treatment that takes your body’s germ-fighting T cells, modifies them to fight cancer, and then reinfuses them into your body.
CAR-T cell therapy may be an option for children and young adults. It could be used for consolidation therapy or to treat relapse.
Clinical trials are experiments that test new cancer treatments as well as new ways to use existing treatments. While clinical trials allow you or your child to try the most recent cancer treatment, the treatment’s benefits and risks are unknown. Discuss the benefits and risks of clinical trials with your doctor.
Treatment for Senior Citizens
Treatment complications are more common in older adults, particularly those over the age of 65. Furthermore, older adults have a worse prognosis than children with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Discuss your options with your doctor. You may choose to have leukemia treatment based on your overall health as well as your goals and preferences.
Some people may choose to forego cancer treatment in favor of focusing on treatments that improve their symptoms and help them make the most of the time they have left.