Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Pediatric)
What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
This condition is a type of cancer that affects bone marrow, which is where the body manufactures cells that make up the blood. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children.
What are the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Children with this condition have:
- Easy bruising
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Abdominal pain
- Pain of the extremities and back
How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosed?
- History and physical examination
- Complete blood count demonstrating abnormalities in white blood cells, red blood cells, and/or platelets
- Presence of lymphoblasts (immature cancer cells)
- Peripheral blood flow cytometry
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to assess morphology, immunophenotype, and cytogenetics
- Lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) to see if cancer cells exist in the fluid in the spine (cerebrospinal fluid)
What is the treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Treatment is customized based on the risk that ALL poses to the child and considers the following prognostic factors:
- White blood cell count
- Central nervous system disease
- Minimal residual disease status
Treatment includes Dana Farber Cancer Institute directed protocol therapy and often lasts for two years. Cure rates approach and exceed to 90 percent in all cases.