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Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.
Normally, the lymphocytes fight infection by making antibodies that attack harmful elements. But, in ALL, the cells are immature and overabundant. They crowd out other blood cells, and may collect in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph tissue.
Acute leukemia can occur over a short period of days to weeks. Chromosome abnormalities (extra chromosomes and structural changes in the chromosome material) are present in the majority of patients.
ALL is more common in children than adults, with most children between the ages of two and four when the cancer is found. According to the American Cancer Society, of the 43,050 leukemia cases expected in 2010, ALL will account for 5,330 of the acute cases. The average person has about a one in 1,000 chance of developing ALL.
The following are the most common symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute lymphocytic leukemia may include the following:
Specific treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment may include: