Alternate Names :
ALL, Acute childhood leukemia, Cancer – acute childhood leukemia (ALL), Leukemia – acute childhood (ALL)
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a fast-growing cancer in which the body produces a large number of immature white blood cells (lymphocytes). These cells are found in the blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
ALL makes up 80% of childhood acute leukemias. Most cases occur in children ages 3 – 7. The disease may also occur in adults.
In acute leukemia, cancerous cells multiply quickly and replace normal cells. Cancerous cells take over normal parts of the bone marrow, often causing low blood counts .
Most cases of ALL have no obvious cause. However, the following may play a role in the development of leukemia:
* Certain chromosome problems
* Radiation exposure or being exposed to x-rays before birth
* Past treatment with chemotherapy drugs
* Receiving a bone marrow transplant
* Toxins such as benzene
Persons with Down syndrome or other genetic disorders, or who have a brother or sister with leukemia are at increased risk for ALL.
Pictures & Images
Bone marrow aspiration
A small amount of bone marrow is removed during a bone marrow aspiration. The procedure is uncomfortable, but can be tolerated by both children and adults. The marrow can be studied to determine the cause of anemia, the presence of leukemia or other malignancy, or the presence of some “storage diseases” in which abnormal metabolic products are stored in certain bone marrow cells.
Note multiple Auer rods which are found only in acute myeloid leukemias, either myeloblastic or monoblastic. These rods consist of clumps of azurophilic granule material.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia – photomicrograph
This picture shows the darkly-stained lymph cells (lymphoblasts) seen in acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of childhood leukemia.
Bone marrow from hip
Bone marrow may be harvested from the hip (iliac bone) to serve as bone grafts elsewhere in the body.
Immune system structures
The immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances. The inflammatory response (inflammation) is part of innate immunity. It occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat or any other cause.
Reviewed By : David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital.