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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Andrew (Lil' Bud's Best Friend)


Age: 14

Best Friend: Lil’ Bud

Birthday: December 2

Hobbies: Computers and Magic

Favorite Movie: Toy Story 1, 2, and 3

Favorite Vacation Spot: Florida

Favorite Quote: “Hey Lil’ Bud”

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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), sometimes called Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, is the most common form of leukemia found in children, accounting for about 30 percent of all pediatric cancer. There are about 3000 cases of ALL in children and youth up to age 21 each year in the United States.

This disease progresses rather quickly and is characterized by a large number of immature white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. While this was a rapidly fatal disease in the past, it is now largely survivable with chemotherapy. This cancer, unfortunately, occurs mostly in children; children often do much better than adults with the disease.


Lymphoblasts are an immature form of the type of white blood cell known as lymphocytes. In the bone marrow, a process called hematopoiesis takes place, which basically means the formation of our immune and blood cells. Lymphoblasts go on to become T Lymphocytes (T cells), B Lymphocytes (B cells), or Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells). This process does not progress as it should in patients with ALL.  Patients have an overabundance of immature lymphoblastic or baby cells.  


  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Pallor

  • Fever (fever of unknown origin in children) or night sweats

  • Frequent infections (this can be difficult to determine in children who normally get several infections each year)

  • Bruising

  • Shortness of breath

  • Decrease in appetite and weight loss

  • Petechiae (skin spots that appear red and do not disappear when you put pressure on the skin—do not blanch)

  • Bone and joint pain, especially in the long bones

  • Painless enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin

  • Tenderness of the upper right or left abdomen, just under the ribs.


ALL is usually first suspected based on an increased white blood cell count with an increased number of immature lymphocytes. Further tests done in the diagnostic process may include:

  • Genetic markers

  • Bone marrow biopsy

  • Imaging tests to look for tumors, especially in the abdomen, chest, or spinal cord

  • Lumbar puncture (a spinal tap is done to look for the presence of cancer cells in the cerebrospinal fluid)


See your PCP for a Hematology/Oncology referral.

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