Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
We lace 'em up every morning knowing that, in some significant way, we will have made a stride toward our common mission: decreasing the burden of cancer.
Stephen Sallan, MD
A diagnosis of childhood leukemia can be a terrifying experience for both the parents and the child. Leukemia is a type of blood cancer. It develops in the bone marrow—the soft, spongy center of the long bones that produces blood cells.
If your child has leukemia, her bone marrow makes white blood cells that do not fight infection, as they are supposed to. These abnormal cells are called “blasts” and they reproduce very quickly. When the blasts crowd out the healthy cells in the bone marrow, your child begins to experience symptoms, such as a fever, bone pain and anemia.
ALL accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of all childhood cancer.
ALL is the most common type of childhood leukemia, accounting for about 75 to 80 percent of childhood leukemias.
Treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a long-term process. Chemotherapy and other treatment for the disease may take two years or more to complete.
- Today, thanks to developments in treatment and care, most children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia can be cured.
As you read further, you’ll find general information about ALL. If you would like to view summary information about cancer first, see the cancer overview.
How Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center approaches lymphoblastic leukemia
Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center’s Pediatric Leukemia Program has played a key role in refining treatment for childhood leukemia, resulting in today’s cure rates of more than 80 percent for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We continue to lead clinical trials designed to increase cure rates, decrease treatment-related side effects and improve care for long-term survivors.
|Back to School program|
|At age 11, Ronald (R.J.) Agostinelli was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. He missed seven months of elementary school while having chemotherapy. R.J. talks about what it was like returning to his class after a long absence.|
Reviewed by Lewis Silverman, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010