Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
There are four major types of leukemia. ALL is the most common type diagnosed in children, and the least common in adults. About 5,300 people are diagnosed with ALL each year. Children account for two-thirds of these cases. In general, children with ALL have a better prognosis than adults. Most children with ALL can be cured of this cancer.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms of ALL include fatigue, pale skin, recurrent infections, bone pain, bruising, and small red spots under the skin. Doctors use various tests, including blood counts and bone marrow biopsies, to diagnose ALL.
ALL is treated with chemotherapy and, sometimes, radiation. Children receive different chemotherapy regimens than adults. Some patients with advanced cancer that has not responded to these treatments may need a stem cell transplant.
Both chemotherapy and transplantation increase the risk for infection. Patients must take serious precautions to avoid exposure to germs. Ways to prevent infection include:
- Practice good hygiene including regular handwashing and dental care (brushing, flossing)
- Avoid crowds, especially during cold and flu season
- Eat only well-cooked foods (no raw fruits or vegetables)
- Boil tap water before drinking it
- Do not keep fresh flowers or plants in your house as they may carry mold
- Make sure you are up to date with vaccinations. Children may need to be reimmunized
Review Date: 01/27/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.