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Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is also called acute lymphocytic leukemia. It's a type of leukemia that causes the body to make too many lymphoblasts.
Lymphoblasts are a type of young white blood cell. They usually become mature infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. But if those young cells don't mature like they should, they can become leukemia cells. These leukemia cells grow out of control in the bone marrow, crowding out normal blood-making cells. The leukemia cells can make their way into the blood and travel to other parts of the body. This causes swollen glands, lumps, and other problems.
Experts don't know what causes leukemia in most people. But they think that most leukemia happens because of things in the environment and in a person's genes.
Some things may increase the risk, such as having certain genetic conditions or being exposed to large amounts of radiation or certain chemicals.
If you or your child has ALL, you may feel weak, tired, or have a fever. Or you may be pale or have a headache. Other symptoms in children and adults include bruising, bleeding easily, and bone pain.
The doctor will do a physical exam and blood tests. A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy also will likely be done. If the results point to leukemia, the doctor may do more tests on the blood or bone marrow samples to learn more about the type or subtype of leukemia.
Most treatment plans for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) include three steps. Induction therapy kills leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. It includes chemotherapy and corticosteroids. Consolidation therapy kills any leukemia cells that might remain after induction. Maintenance therapy helps prevent relapse.
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Symptoms of ALL in children and adults include:
Other symptoms include:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor if you have symptoms. For example, call if:
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse.
Your doctor will ask you about any current symptoms, your medical history, and your family history. You'll have a physical exam, where your doctor will check your lymph nodes, liver, and spleen to feel if they are larger than normal.
You'll have tests, which may include:
If the exam and test results point to leukemia, the doctor may do more tests on the blood or bone marrow samples to learn more about the type or subtype of the leukemia.
Most treatment plans for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have three steps.
Treatments may include:
Treatments for ALL have improved greatly over time. But treatment may take several years to complete.
A clinical trial may be a good choice. Your medical team can tell you if there's a clinical trial that might be right for you.
Hospice palliative care is a type of care for people who have a serious illness. It's different from care to cure your illness, called curative treatment. Hospice palliative care provides an extra layer of support that can improve your quality of life—not just in your body, but also in your mind and spirit. Sometimes hospice palliative care is combined with curative treatment.
The kind of care you get depends on what you need. Your goals guide your care. You can get both hospice palliative care and care to treat your illness. You don't have to choose one or the other.
Hospice palliative care can help you manage symptoms, pain, or side effects from treatment. It may help you and those close to you better understand your illness, talk more openly about your feelings, or decide what treatment you want or don't want. It can also help you communicate better with your doctors, nurses, family, and friends.
It can be hard to live with an illness that cannot be cured. But if your health is getting worse, you may want to make decisions about end-of-life care. Planning for the end of your life does not mean that you are giving up. It is a way to make sure that your wishes are met. Clearly stating your wishes can make it easier for your loved ones. Making plans while you are still able may also ease your mind and make your final days less stressful and more meaningful.
Some people use complementary therapies along with medical treatment. They may help relieve the symptoms and stress of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatment. Therapies that may be helpful include:
Talk with your doctor about any of these options you would like to try. And let your doctor know if you are already using any complementary therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. But they may help you feel better and cope better with treatment.
Relationships take on new importance when you're faced with cancer. Your family and friends can help support you. You may also want to look beyond those who are close to you.
Remember that the people around you want to support you, and asking for help isn't a sign of weakness.
Your friends and family want to help, but some of them may not know what to do. It may help to make a list. For example, you might ask them to:
Places to turn for support include:
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineBrian Leber MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Brian Leber MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
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