St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)

    ALL; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Acute lymphoid leukemia; Acute childhood leukemia; Cancer - acute childhood leukemia (ALL); Leukemia - acute childhood (ALL)

    Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a fast-growing cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells are found in the bone marrow and other parts of the body.

    Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) occurs when the body produces a large number of immature lymphocytes. The cancer cells grow quickly and replace normal cells in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of bones that helps form all blood cells. ALL prevents healthy blood cells from being made. Life-threatening symptoms can occur.


    Most of the time, noclear cause can be found for ALL.But the following may play a role in the development of leukemia in general:

    • Certain chromosome problems
    • Exposure to radiation, including x-rays before birth
    • Past treatment with chemotherapy drugs
    • Receiving a bone marrow transplant
    • Toxins such as benzene

    The following increasethe riskof ALL:

    • Down syndrome or other genetic disorders
    • A brother or sister with leukemia

    This type of leukemia usually affects children ages 3 to 7. ALL is the most common childhood cancer, but it can also occur in adults.


    ALL makesthe personmore likely to bleed and develop infections. Symptoms include:

    • Bone and joint pain
    • Easy bruising and bleeding (such as bleeding gums, skin bleeding, nosebleeds, abnormal periods)
    • Feeling weak or tired
    • Fever
    • Loss of appetite and weight loss
    • Paleness
    • Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs
    • Pinpoint red spots on the skin (petechiae)
    • Swollen glands (lymphadenopathy) in the neck, under arms, and groin
    • Night sweats

    Note: These symptoms can occur with other conditions. Talk tothe doctor about the meaning of specific symptoms.

    Exams and Tests

    A physical exam may reveal the following:

    • Bruising
    • Swollen liver, lymph nodes, and spleen
    • Signs of bleeding (petechiae, purpura)

    Blood tests may include:

    • Complete blood count (CBC), including white blood cell (WBC) count
    • Platelet count
    • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
    • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to check for leukemia cells in the spinal fluid

    Tests are also done to look for changes in the DNA inside the abnormal whitecells. CertainDNA changes may determine what kind of treatmentthe personreceives and the outlook.


    The first goal of treatment is to get blood counts back to normal. If this occurs and the bone marrow looks healthy under the microscope, the cancer is said to be in remission.

    Chemotherapy is the first treatment tried with the goal of achieving complete remission.

    • Theperson may need to stay in the hospital for chemotherapy. Or it can be given at a clinic and the patient goes home afterward.
    • Chemotherapy is given into the veins (by IV) and sometimes next to the spine and brain.

    After remission, more treatment is needed to be cured. This treatment can include more chemotherapy orradiation to the brain. Stem cell transplant from another person may also be done. Further treatment depends on:

    • Age and health of the person
    • Type of leukemia cells, including the DNA changes found
    • How many courses of chemotherapy it took to achieve remission
    • Availability of donors for stem cell transplant

    Support Groups

    cancer support group

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Those who respond to treatment right away tend to do better. Mostchildren with ALL can be cured. Childrenoften have a better outcome than adults.

    Possible Complications

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms ofALL.


    You may reduce your risk of ALL by avoiding contactwith certain toxins, radiation, and chemicals.


    Jeha S, Pui CH. Clinical manifestations and treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed.Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012: chap 64.

    National Cancer Institute: PDQ Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 07/10/2012. Available at Accessed 01/03/2013.

    National Cancer Institute: PDQ Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 11/01/2012. Available at Accessed 01/03/2013.

    National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Version 2.2012. Available at Accessed 01/03/2013.


    • Bone marrow aspiration


    • Acute lymphocytic leukem...


    • Auer rods


    • Bone marrow from hip


    • Immune system structures


      • Bone marrow aspiration


      • Acute lymphocytic leukem...


      • Auer rods


      • Bone marrow from hip


      • Immune system structures


      A Closer Look

      Self Care

        Tests for Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)

        Review Date: 2/8/2013

        Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Blackman, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs

        Brain & Spine
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile