Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood cells that affects the body’s white blood cells, which help defend it against infections. This disease is primarily found in children and adolescents but can also occur in adults. It is the most common type of blood cancer in children and is the main cancer diagnosed in people under the age of 20. Additionally, the majority of cases are diagnosed in individuals under the age of 5.
What Are the Symptoms of ALL?
The signs and symptoms of ALL vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:
- Fatigue: Feeling tired and sluggish all the time
- Fever: Unexplained fever that won’t go away
- Weight Loss: Significant unintentional weight loss
- Bruising and Bleeding Easily: People with ALL may have more bruises or bleeding episodes than usual (e.g. nosebleeds and bleeding gums)
- Pain in the Joints/Bones: Pain and tenderness in the bones and joints
- Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swelling of the lymph nodes (e.g. the neck, armpit, or groin)
- Frequent Infections: Repeated bouts of infection that seem to last longer than normal
It’s important to note that some of these symptoms can be due to other, less serious conditions. A thorough medical evaluation is needed to make a diagnosis for ALL.
How Is ALL Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of ALL is made through lab tests and imaging studies. Lab tests can involve a complete blood count and chemical tests to check the cells in the bone marrow. Imaging studies, such as X-rays and CT scans, are used to examine the organs and lymph nodes in the body.
Treatment Options for ALL
Treatment options for ALL vary depending on the person’s age and health. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell/bone marrow transplants. A combination of these treatments is often utilized.
Living with ALL
Living with ALL can be challenging. However, there are many organizations and resources available to those living with the disease. Additionally, there are many support groups available to help people find strength, understanding and hope.
No matter the diagnosis, living a healthy lifestyle is important, especially for those with ALL. Eating nutritious meals, getting regular physical activity, and managing stress can help one feel their best and remain healthy.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a form of cancer of the blood cells that affects the white blood cells and primarily affects children and adolescents. It is treatable, but the treatment varies depending on the person’s age and health. Additionally, living with ALL can be challenging, but there are many resources and support groups available to help people manage the disease. Lastly, living a healthy lifestyle is important for all people, especially those with ALL.