What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections. There are two main types of white blood cells-lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. ALL affects lymphoid cells.
Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. The abnormal cells are immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infections. For this reason, children with ALL often get infections and have fevers.
ALL is also called acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is the most common leukemia in children.
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections.
- In ALL, the abnormal cells may collect in the brain or spinal cord, also called the central nervous system (CNS).
- In cancers such as leukemia that appear throughout the body during their earliest stages, screening does not appear to be useful. Rather, children with any symptoms that suggest the possibility of ALL should be seen by their physician.
- Although leukemia cells from different children with ALL often look very similar under the microscope, there are actually many distinctive subtypes of ALL.
- With the exception of prenatal exposure to X-rays and specific genetic syndromes, such as Down syndrome, little is known about the causes of and risk factors for childhood ALL.