Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is characterized by a rapidly-developing cancer involving overproduction of cancerous white blood cells called lymphoblasts.
 
Because ALL grows rapidly, it can quickly crowd out normal blood cells in the bone marrow and bloodstream, leading to anemia, susceptibility to infections and uncontrolled bleeding.
 
Although ALL can be aggressive, it is also a highly treatable disease, thanks to advances in treatment protocols. Remission is usually achieve in the majority of ALL patients with intensive therapy, which can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplantation.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
 
The following represent symptoms typical for ALL:
 
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent bruises or bleeds that do not clot
  • Leukemia cutis (multiple lesions with a firm or rubbery consistency that may be pink, red, red-brown or blue-violet in color)
  • Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs
  • Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin
  • Petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
 
If your or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, please contact your doctor for further evaluation, which may include a biopsy for a leukemia diagnosis.
 
Risk Factors for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
 
Risk factors associated with ALL include the following:
 
  • Family history of leukemia
  • Age: ALL is more common for those older than 70
  • Caucasian descent
  • Exposure to radiation: Particularly X-rays before birth
  • Previous treatment with radiation or chemotherapy
  • Treatment with Thorotrast (a commonly used contrast medium for diagnostic X-rays from the 1930s through the 1950s).
  • Genetic disorders: Those with Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome or neurofibromatosis are at a greater risk for ALL

People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.
 
Note that having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will develop ALL. Most people who have risk factors never develop cancer. Likewise, some people who develop leukemia may not have any risk factors present.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have ALL, please contact your doctor for a medical examination.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with leukemia or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 
Sources: American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute