Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. It is the most common type of cancer in children. ALL occurs when the bone marrow produces a large number of immature lymphoblasts. Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of bones that helps to form all blood cells. The abnormal lymphoblasts grow quickly and replace normal cells in the bone marrow. ALL prevents healthy blood cells from being made. Life-threatening symptoms can occur as normal blood counts drop.
HOW IS CHILDHOOD ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA DIAGNOSED?
A physical examination will be conducted by the Haematology specialist before blood tests will be carried out for a complete blood count to measure the number of red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. Also, the doctor will check for the types of white blood cells. Blood chemistry studies and bone marrow biopsies are also known to help in diagnosis.
HOW IS CHILDHOOD ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA TREATED?
Treatment is carried out in two phases: induction therapy and post-induction therapy. Common treatment methods for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia are:
• Chemotherapy using a combination of anti-cancer drugs
• Consolidation and central nervous system treatment
• Bone marrow transplant
• Testicular radiotherapy
DID YOU KNOW?
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia commonly affects children than adults.