Since ALL is the most popular form of childhood acute leukemias, one needs to gather every bit of information present about this disease. This particular childhood leukemia is a type of blood cancer (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 1). ALL results from an acquired genetic injury to the DNA of a single cell in the bone marrow (Bellenir 592). Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and Acute Lymphoid Leukemia are both synonyms for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (Bellenir 592). Throughout the United States in 2010, 5,330 people are expected to be diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 1).
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia results when the body produces a large quantity of immature white blood cells (Hughes). ALL can originate in the bone, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and spleen (Zieve 1). ALL starts with a change to a single cell in the bone marrow (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 1). As with any disease, risk factors are present with ALL. If an individual has had exposure to high doses of radiation therapy, they are at a high risk for developing ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 1). ALL occurs at different rates in different geographic locations (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 2). However, people that live in more developed countries are at a higher risk of developing ALL as well (Bellenir 592). People that have Down syndrome or other genetic disorders, or have a sibling with leukemia are at a greater risk for developing ALL (Zieve 1).
ALL patient experience many different symptoms during the disease. People who are experiencing ALL may come to find pain in the arms, legs, and back (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 2). Individuals may notice tiny red spots under the skin and black-and-blue marks, almost like bruises, on the skin for no apparent reason (Bellenir 594). Detecting swollen lymph nodes is not an everyday activity for an average human being; however, if an individual notices painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach or groin, they should seek immediate medical attention (Zieve 1). An ALL patient may experience headaches, shortness of breaths, tiredness, vomiting, and pale looking skin (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 2).
Multiple tests are conducted to diagnose an individual with ALL. Blood and bone marrow tests are done to look for leukemic cells (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). Also, when a patient goes for regular check ups at their oncologists office, a complete blood count is used to help with the diagnosis (Hughes). Another test provided for diagnosis is a bone marrow aspirate. A bone marrow aspirate is performed to take a closer look at the cells in the marrow in order to look for abnormal cells such as blast cells (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). Blast cells is a term used to describe a type of blood cell disease caused by young or immature lymphocytes (Hughes). Lastly another test provided is a bone marrow biopsy. A bone marrow biopsy simply gives information about how much disease is in the marrow (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3).
When the doctors are discussing possible treatments for a patient, they use information from tests to decide the type of drug therapy a patient needs and how long this possible treatment will last (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). When discovering possible treatments, doctors need to consider the patients age and the number of ALL cells present in the blood (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). If the ALL has spread to the covering of the brain or spinal cord, doctors should take this into consideration while deciding the patients treatment (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia3). If patients have certain chromosomal changes chromosomal changes, doctors need to think about that when deciding treatment for a patient (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3).
Numerous treatments are being used to treat ALL. When a patient is diagnosed with ALL, they need to start chemotherapy immediately (Hughes). Doctors use a treatment dubbed induction therapy. Induction therapys purpose is to elevate blood cell counts to a normal level (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). With induction therapy, a patient may receive more than one drug per dosage (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). Combining drugs can strengthen the effect of the drugs (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 3). Chemotherapy can be given as an oral medicine or by placing a catheter in the vein, usually the upper chest area (Hughes). Several ALL patients build up uric acid in their blood from their disease (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Uric acid is a chemical made in the body, and if a high amount of uric acid is present, painful kidney stones may occur (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Chemotherapy increases the risk of uric acid (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4).
Another form of possible treatment for patients with ALL is a spinal tap. A spinal tap is used to check the spinal fluid for leukemic cells (Hughes). Individuals with ALL have leukemic cells in the lining of the spinal cord and brain (Hughes). However, the cells may not always be found in the exam of the spinal fluid (Hughes).
Allogenic stem cell transplants are a rare treatment for ALL. This treatment is used for only some patients with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). This is a beneficial treatment for some higher risks forms of ALL such as: T-cell ALL, infant ALL, and adult ALL (Hughes). Allogenic stem cell transplants are performed to give strong doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill the ALL cells, which will also kill the healthy stem cells in the marrow as well (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). The transplanted donor stem cells help start a new supply of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4).
This procedure is a very high-risk procedure (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Doctors usually encourage this procedure for adult ALL patients if they are not doing well with other treatments (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Although this is a dangerous procedure, the expected benefits exceed the possible risks (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). An allogenic stem cell transplant is not usually approved for a child unless the doctors have decided that the childs type of ALL is not likely to respond well to chemotherapy (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Also, if the chemotherapy has not worked well, or if the child has relapsed ALL, then the doctors may consider this particular procedure (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4).
Post induction therapy is needed after a patient is in remission. Remission is when all of the signs of the disease are absent for an extended period of time (Hughes). This form of therapy is given in two to three year cycles (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). More often than not, ALL cells remain that are not found by common blood or marrow tests, the doctors provide the post induction therapy (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). However, the drugs used are not the same drugs used during induction therapy (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). Doctors must consider a patients medical history to decide the best post induction therapy treatment for the patient. The first consideration is the patients response to induction therapy (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4). The last consideration the doctors must think about is whether the patient has certain chromosomal abnormalities (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 4).
The possible side effects of ALL vary from serious to minor. The number of red cells may decrease, which is a common term called anemia (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). ALL patients may also have a drop in the number of platelets (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). When a platelet count is extremely low, he or she may need a platelet transfusion to prevent possible bleeding (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Some patients may notice a drop in white blood cells while fighting ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Since white blood cells fight off infections, a drop in white blood cells may result in an infection (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Such infections may be treated with just the typical antibiotic (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). To lower the risk of infection a patients central line absolutely must be clean (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5).
Also, a patients visitors and medical providers need to wash their hands well (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Mouth sores are also common in patients with ALL due to the chemotherapy (Hughes). To prevent getting mouth sores, the patient should maintain good oral hygiene (Hughes). More often than not, patients with ALL experience nausea and vomiting while receiving their chemotherapy treatment and even after their treatment (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Doctors provide drugs to prevent nausea and vomiting (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5). Also, diarrhea, hair loss, and rashes are also side effects of chemotherapy therapy (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia 5).
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is the most common form of leukemia in children. ALL accounts for 80% of all childhood leukemias discovered today (Zieve 1). Children usually have a better outcome than the rare number of adult ALL patients (Zieve 1). Without treatment, a person with ALL can expect to live for only about three months (Zieve 1). ALL has many factors that are present through out the entire process of ALL. Treatments vary from minor to major treatments. Multiple tests are performed to help diagnose and treat ALL. In conclusion, ALL goes through six processes from the beginning of the disease to the end of the disease; Understanding ALL involves learning about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and the side effects.