Acute lymphocytic leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

The word "acute" in acute lymphocytic leukemia comes from the fact that the disease progresses rapidly and creates immature blood cells, rather than mature ones. The "lymphocytic" in acute lymphocytic leukemia refers to the white blood cells called lymphocytes, which ALL affects. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children, and treatments result in a good chance for a cure. Acute lymphocytic leukemia can also occur in adults, though the chance of a cure is greatly reduced.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors

Signs and symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may include:

  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Bone pain
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent or severe nosebleeds
  • Lumps caused by swollen lymph nodes in and around the neck, underarm, abdomen or groin
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, fatigue or a general decrease in energy

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor or your child's doctor if you notice any persistent signs and symptoms that concern you. Many signs and symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia mimic those of the flu. However, flu signs and symptoms eventually improve. If signs and symptoms don't improve as expected, make an appointment with your doctor.

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