What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a branch of acute leukemia. It is considered as a malignancy of the blood maturation that disorders often occur during the lymphoproliferation.
How common is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
This condition primarily occurs in childhood. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia often impact two age groups:
- Below 10 years of age, account for one-third all the cancers proliferation happen in children.
- An other, much smaller peak is above 50 years of age.
In childhood, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is most frequently seen between 3 and 7 years of age. Although, the disease can occur in infants.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Signs and symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia include the following:
- Decreased neutrophil count
- Signs and symptoms of anemia, such as pallor, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations, cardiac flow murmur, and dyspnea with even mild exertion
- Bleeding (eg, from thrombocytopenia due to marrow replacement)
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) at diagnosis (about 10% of cases)
- Palpable lymphadenopathy
- Symptoms related to a large mediastinal mass (e.g., shortness of breath), particularly with T-cell ALL
- Bone pain (severe and often atypical)
- Left upper quadrant fullness and early satiety due to splenomegaly (about 10-20% of cases)
- Symptoms of leukostasis (e.g., respiratory distress, altered mental status)
- Renal failure in patients with a high tumor burden
- Infections, including pneumonia
- Petechiae (particularly on lower extremities) and ecchymoses
- Signs relating to organ infiltration with leukemic cells and lymphadenopathy
- Rashes from skin infiltration with leukemic cells
There may be some symptoms not listed above and those listed above are rarely so prominent as to be a presenting complaint.
Therefore, if you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
The cause of acute lymphocytic leukemia is based upon the genetic classification of this condition. The genetic abnormality can present in two cases:
- There is an abnormal amount of DNA in each cell.
- There is a normal amount of DNA, however, their structure is abnormal.
Most of these genetic abnormalities mentioned above involve translocation or mutations during the transcription (creation) of DNA.
What increases my risk for acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Some people with certain types of cancer have inherited DNA mutations from a parent. These changes increase their risk for the disease. But ALL is very rarely caused by one of these inherited mutations.
Usually DNA mutations related to acute lymphocytic leukemia occur during the person’s lifetime rather than having been inherited before birth. They may result from exposure to radiation or cancer-causing chemicals, but in most cases the reason they occur is not known.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosed?
ALL can be diagnosed with laboratory studies, such as:
- CBC or Complete Blood Count
- Blood film and Marrow Aspirate
- Immunophenotyping and Genetic Analyses (using biomarkers)
- Estimating elevated lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) concentration and aciduric levels.
- Studies to detect tumor growth: Combine the test result above with physical examination of the patients for splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy and chest X-ray to provide evidence of the patient’s tumor burden/mass.
A diagnosis of ALL is usually easily made in children. In adults where ALL is an unlikely diagnosis, it can be more difficult in distinguishing ALL from Acute myelogenous leukemia which is the other branch of acute leukemia.
Mis-judgement can be made because there are many other forms of lymphoma.
- Non- lymphoid tumor may be confused with ALL
- Activated normal lymphoid cells can closely resemble leukemic lymphoblasts (morphologically.)
How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated?
Although ALL is a mortality condition due to many severe outcomes in children. ALL can be managed with drug therapy and clinical course.
More than 80% of children who achieve complete remission and finish 2-3 years of maintenance Glucocorticoid therapy will be cured of their disease. The prognosis in adults treated with the conventional ALL protocol is much worse, with only 30-40% chance of long-term survival.
However, children who achieve long-term disease-free survival will face some risk of a secondary malignancy, particularly gliomas.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ALL?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with ALL:
- Tell your doctor if the symptoms persist or get worse after treatment for some time.
- Tell your doctor if you have new symptoms or you do not feel well while taking the drug.
- Take your medicines as directed by your doctor even if you feel better already. Stopping medication can cause symptoms of ALL return.
- Contact your doctor before you use drugs or other functional foods.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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Harrison CJ, Moorman AV, Barber KE, et al. Interphase molecular cytogenetic screening for chromosomal abnormalities of prognostic significance in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: a UK Cancer Cytogenetics Group Study. Br J Haematol 2005. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Do We Know What Causes Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/acute-lymphocytic-leukemia/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Review Date: March 8, 2017 | Last Modified: March 8, 2017