Acute lymphocytic leukemia

 

What is it?

 

While acute lymphocytic leukemia, also called ALL, can occur in children and young people, this description and treatment is referring to adults with acute lymphocytic (also called lymphoblastic) leukemia.

 

ALL is cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which is the spongey area inside the bone where blood cells are formed. The word "lymphocytic" in the name refers to the white blood cells called lymphocytes which is where ALL develops.

What are the types?

 

Similar to lymphoma, ALL can be one of two types:

  • B-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL/LBL)
  • T-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL/LBL)

 

B-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma

 

B-ALL/LBL, for short, makes up for 66% of acute lymphocytic leukemia, and 75% of people out of that group are children.

 

T-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma

 

T-ALL/LBL, on the otherhand, is more frequent in late childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

 

Who's more at risk?

 

Both B-ALL and T-ALL are more frequent in men than in women.

 

The cause of ALL is generally unknown but there have been connections to some specific gene mutations in the past.

 

Diagnosis & Treatment

 

For a doctor to determine if you have ALL, she might first do some bloodwork. If these come back abnormal, then you may have a bone marrow sample taken that they can specifically test for leukemia cells.

 

If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, there might be further testing to see if it has spread. This testing might include an imaging scan such as an MRI or PET scan, as well as a spinal fluid test. The spinal fluid sample would be checking to see if the cancerous cells have reached the spinal fluid.

 

Treating acute lymphocyic leukemia is done in 4 phases: induction therapy, consolidation therapy, maintenance therapy, and preventative spinal cord treatment.

 

Induction therapy

 

This is the beginning phase of treatment to kill as many cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow.

 

Consolidation therapy

 

This phase is usually when the patient is hopefully in remission (no evidence of disease). It's aim is to kill any little remaining leukemia cells to make sure that the cancer doesn't return.

 

Maintenance therapy

 

This phase of treatment might be given over a very long course of time and is routine therapy to continue to ensure that the cancer doesn't return.

 

Preventative spinal cord treatment

 

Rather than being the last stage, this is a stage that is combined with some of the other three. To prevent leukemia from affecting the spinal cord, your medical team may choose to inject chemotherapy into the spinal fluid to keep the cancer at bay.

 

Treatment during these phases might include chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant(s) and immune cell therapy. The immune cell therapy is called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy which removes the body's T-cells that fight infection and makes them stronger before returning them back to your body to fight the cancer cells.

 

There are also many clinical trials using new drugs that may be available to you. If you are interested in this option, ask your doctor what you might be able to sign up for.

 

 

What is it?

 

While acute lymphocytic leukemia, also called ALL, can occur in children and young people, this description and treatment is referring to adults with acute lymphocytic (also called lymphoblastic) leukemia.

 

ALL is cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which is the spongey area inside the bone where blood cells are formed. The word "lymphocytic" in the name refers to the white blood cells called lymphocytes which is where ALL develops.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia

What are the types?

 

Similar to lymphoma, ALL can be one of two types:

  • B-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL/LBL)
  • T-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL/LBL)

 

B-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma

 

B-ALL/LBL, for short, makes up for 66% of acute lymphocytic leukemia, and 75% of people out of that group are children.

 

T-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma

 

T-ALL/LBL, on the otherhand, is more frequent in late childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

 

Who's more at risk?

 

Both B-ALL and T-ALL are more frequent in men than in women.

 

The cause of ALL is generally unknown but there have been connections to some specific gene mutations in the past.

 

Diagnosis & Treatment

 

For a doctor to determine if you have ALL, she might first do some bloodwork. If these come back abnormal, then you may have a bone marrow sample taken that they can specifically test for leukemia cells.

 

If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, there might be further testing to see if it has spread. This testing might include an imaging scan such as an MRI or PET scan, as well as a spinal fluid test. The spinal fluid sample would be checking to see if the cancerous cells have reached the spinal fluid.

 

Treating acute lymphocyic leukemia is done in 4 phases: induction therapy, consolidation therapy, maintenance therapy, and preventative spinal cord treatment.

 

Induction therapy

 

This is the beginning phase of treatment to kill as many cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow.

 

Consolidation therapy

 

This phase is usually when the patient is hopefully in remission (no evidence of disease). It's aim is to kill any little remaining leukemia cells to make sure that the cancer doesn't return.

 

Maintenance therapy

 

This phase of treatment might be given over a very long course of time and is routine therapy to continue to ensure that the cancer doesn't return.

 

Preventative spinal cord treatment

 

Rather than being the last stage, this is a stage that is combined with some of the other three. To prevent leukemia from affecting the spinal cord, your medical team may choose to inject chemotherapy into the spinal fluid to keep the cancer at bay.

 

Treatment during these phases might include chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant(s) and immune cell therapy. The immune cell therapy is called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy which removes the body's T-cells that fight infection and makes them stronger before returning them back to your body to fight the cancer cells.

 

There are also many clinical trials using new drugs that may be available to you. If you are interested in this option, ask your doctor what you might be able to sign up for.

 

Symptom list:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia